New style needed for Eng­land to bridge gap

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS - By Joshua Richards

HEAD coach Ross Hunter be­lieves it’s time to “rip up the rule­book” and rev­o­lu­tionise vis­ually im­paired cricket if Eng­land are to bridge the gap.

Hunter’s team have just re­turned from the Sub­con­ti­nent where they reached the Blind Cricket T20 World Cup semi-fi­nals, los­ing to Pak­istan by 147 runs, who were then beaten by nine wick­ets by hosts In­dia in the fi­nal.

In­dia and Pak­istan have shared the last four World Cups, yet Hunter was dis­ap­pointed his team could not put on more of a show.

The 36-year-old for­mer wick­et­keeper ac­cepts there is cur­rently a gulf be­tween his team and the fi­nal­ists, but re­fuses to be­lieve Eng­land can­not reach their level.

Hunter said: “We have al­ways just tried to catch up with In­dia and Pak­istan, but their play­ers spend 180 days a year play­ing and they have a wide pool of play­ers.

“I think by in­vest­ing in a smaller amount of play­ers, 15 guys, giv­ing them the best sup­port and de­vel­op­ing the best pro­gramme pos­si­ble, that will give us a chance.

“Rather than think we can build a big do­mes­tic game here and hope to catch up that way, let’s rip up the rule­book and take a look at are we us­ing the right bats and other equip­ment?

“In­dia and Pak­istan hit the ball like hockey play­ers, so I in­tend to watch a lot and see if there are tech­ni­cal as­pects we can take from that.”

Eng­land’s sched­ule meant they were al­ways likely to be play­ing catch-up, with In­dia, Pak­istan and Sri Lanka to play in their open­ing matches.

Heavy de­feats to those na­tions – by 98 runs, ten wick­ets and 103 runs re­spec­tively – were bro­ken up by an eight-wicket win over New Zealand.

Eng­land main­tained be­lief though, and saw off South Africa, Bangladesh, Nepal, Aus­tralia and West Indies to sneak into fourth place.

Bowl­ing first against Pak­istan they had to chase down 310 to win. But they strug­gled to build part­ner­ships, Matthew Page (41) and cap­tain Luke Sugg (34) pro­vid­ing the no­table re­sis­tance as they mus­tered 162-7 in 20 overs.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed, be­cause I wanted to win the World Cup,” added Hunter.

“It’s prob­a­bly a pos­i­tive thing that we feel that way. It’s the strong­est Eng­land team I’ve been in charge of.”

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