Dis­abil­ity game needs to cre­ate stars like Tanni says ECB chief

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS - By James Booker

THE ECB’s head of dis­abil­ity cricket wants more recog­ni­tion for the achieve­ments of dis­abled crick­eters in or­der to grow the global pro­file of the game.

Ian Martin, who has been spear­head­ing the ECB’s dis­abil­ity cricket ef­forts for the last ten years, says peo­ple “don’t know” that tour­na­ments are go­ing on, un­less they have a vested in­ter­est in the sport.

One way of com­bat­ing this is to in­crease the cov­er­age of the achieve­ments of sides when they scoop a ma­jor crown.

Martin played dis­abil­ity cricket for the Welsh na­tional team, be­fore tak­ing up a role at Dis­abil­ity Sport Wales, and fi­nally be­ing made na­tional cricket dis­abil­ity man­ager at the ECB.

His role has evolved and he now heads up elite per­for­mance among dis­abled crick­eters in Eng­land.

“Recog­ni­tion of the achieve­ment of the coun­tries that are ac­tive is im­por­tant,” Martin said. “We’ve got the Blind Cricket World Cup tak­ing place in In­dia at the end of the month, with ten coun­tries in­volved.

“Later this year we’ve got a learn­ing dis­abil­ity tri-se­ries tak­ing place in Eng­land. There will also be tour­na­ments fea­tur­ing play­ers with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties. But un­less you’re ac­tu­ally in­volved in it or have a real in­ter­est in dis­abil­ity cricket, peo­ple don’t know it’s go­ing on.

“In­ter­na­tion­ally, cricket is grow­ing all the time, but peo­ple don’t know dis­abil­ity cricket is hap­pen­ing, if you com­pare the global pop­u­lar­ity of cricket to a lesser sport.

“If you stop the man on the street and say ‘talk about dis­abil­ity sport’, they prob­a­bly men­tion Tanni Grey-Thomp­son or Jon­nie Pea­cock, more peo­ple know about the Par­a­lympians.

“There has to be a per­cent­age of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties that don’t en­joy ath­let­ics or Par­a­lympic sport, as their sport is foot­ball or cricket.”

The de­vel­op­ment of in­di­vid­ual na­tions’ dis­abled cricket is de­volved to the na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions from the ICC, and Martin said some in­ter­na­tional boards were “more proac­tive” than oth­ers when it came to the de­vel­op­ment of the dis­abled game.

“It’s up to each na­tional board to de­cide what is strate­gi­cally planned for the bud­get for each year,” Martin said.

“The ECB has prob­a­bly got a big­ger bud­get than most, and dis­abil­ity cricket has de­vel­oped more than most. Cricket Aus­tralia is very much go­ing the same way.

“It’s just that some boards are more proac­tive than oth­ers.”

Pride: The Eng­land Dis­abil­ity team en­joy a lap of hon­our after their re­cent se­ries win in Bangladesh

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