How exciting is it that England are hosting the INAS Learning Disability Tri-Series against Australia and South Africa?
It’s an exceptional opportunity; it will be the first time any of our squad will play competitive international cricket on home soil.
It’s been a ten-year wait for the guys to showcase their ability in front of a home crowd, so it’s an incredible experience for everyone to look forward to.
We are not used to such an intense schedule unless we are on international duty. We want to utilise every opportunity to play international cricket so it does present a little challenge for us.
We are well-resourced to manage and help the players through those ten days – we will give guidance in regards to workload in preparation.
We have a really healthy squad all competing on equal footing for places, so we have opportunities to rotate and manage players.
Will there be extra pressure on England as hosts and having won the last two events?
The conversations we have had so far are based around the players seeing it as an exciting opportunity. We will manage and support them as we get closer.
Their perceptions of pressure around the series will grow but the parents and families are tremendously supportive of the players. To have them in and around the series, I think it can only be positive for us.
How strong can we expect South Africa and Australia to be?
We played Australia more recently and they have some familiar faces who have been around like Gavin Hicks, who is a well-known face in learning disability cricket.
He’s a hard-hitting batsman who can dominate a game. We understand they have some regeneration with about 50 per cent of their squad so there’s still a large unknown quantity.
Intelligence around opposition is normally a bare minimum. We have not seen or heard anything of South Africa’s performance or results since the last series; they will be an unknown quantity.
We do know that they are normally a pretty young, highly enthusiastic group. We will expect a big challenge without a doubt.
How will you prepare for the eight games in such a short time period?
We are just coming to the close of our indoor winter programme and then we’ll have a couple of one-day camps in April/May to give individuals players bespoke support into the season.
We have domestic fixtures against Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire and then a pre-series camp at Cranage Hall to familiarise ourselves with the venue, including a game against an England physical disability XI.
How important is it to host series like this in England?
We are highly privileged the ECB places a huge value on disability cricket – the big issue is showcasing that to the wider population.
There are players playing mainstream cricket who would qualify and are not aware the squad exists.
We are keen for the public to understand and appreciate the quality of the cricket that these guys play; the ability of the players far exceeds their perceived disability.
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, April 14 2017
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