New style needed for England to bridge gap
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.”