World Cup last four... and my life as Joe Root!
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.
Finding the ropes: Ed Hossell cracks a boundary