Disability game needs to create stars like Tanni says ECB chief
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