World Cup last four... and my life as Joe Root!

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS & DIS­ABIL­ITY CRICKET -

Age: 23 Teams: Eng­land Vis­ually Im­paired, Som­er­set

What’s your story?

When I was 16, I was di­ag­nosed with Star­gardt dis­ease – a mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion dis­or­der – which means I have no cen­tral vi­sion. I have a blind spot which is about 10 to 15 de­grees, right in the cen­tre of my vi­sion, so my pe­riph­eral vi­sion is fine but de­tails are very hard for me.

Cricket has al­ways been my sport and my pas­sion. I played since I was about eight or nine years old. When my sight started to de­te­ri­o­rate, my par­ents found a small flyer pinned up on a no­tice­board at Sains­bury’s say­ing there was a vis­ually im­paired team at Som­er­set and invit­ing peo­ple along to their train­ing ses­sion.

I went along, had a great first sea­son, did well enough to get no­ticed by the Eng­land se­lec­tors and it went from there. Thank­fully they haven’t dropped me yet!

How do you re­flect on the re­cent World Cup?

Def­i­nitely a bit dis­ap­point­ing to go out in the semis to Pak­istan.

We are up­set to have not per­formed our best in the semis but there are lots of pos­i­tives to take from the com­pe­ti­tion – we had to win five games in a row just to reach that stage.

We won when we needed to, which bodes well for the fu­ture.

It says a lot about our char­ac­ter that we re­cov­ered from a slow start, where we lost three of our first four games. Why did the team start slowly? We had three very tough teams early on with Sri Lanka, In­dia and Pak­istan with a lot of trav­el­ling be­tween venues too.

They’re bril­liant sides but if we play to our best then we could win those cru­cial games. They’re bet­ter than us but not in terms of skill, just in terms of the prac­tice they get. The gap is def­i­nitely clos­ing.

We also hadn’t played on an out­door wicket since Septem­ber ei­ther, while a lot of the other teams were half­way through their sea­sons.

What was it like play­ing along­side your brother Rory at in­ter­na­tional level for the first time?

It was bril­liant to have Rory along­side me out there and I think I was prouder see­ing him make his de­but than when I made mine!

He fit­ted in re­ally well with the team, took his first in­ter­na­tional wick­ets and re­ally helped in the field too.

Any funny mo­ments from the World Cup?

Be­cause I re­sem­ble Joe Root a lit­tle bit, be­ing in an Eng­land kit in pub­lic meant ev­ery­one seemed to think I was him.

I can’t tell you how many peo­ple came up to me dur­ing the tour, prob­a­bly over 100, and told me: “You look like Joe Root!”

To start off with, I would tell them I wasn’t him but by the end of the tour I was say­ing: “Yeah, yeah, that’s me. Do you want a pic­ture with Joe Root? Do you want me to sign an au­to­graph?”

It was a great laugh.

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