I didn’t ex­pect it to be such a dif­fer­ent sport

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE -

Age: 35 Role: Head Coach of Eng­land Blind Cricket How did you first get into Vis­ually Im­paired cricket? I had no prior knowl­edge of blind cricket, my back­ground was in main­stream cricket, but when I saw the job ad­ver­tised I thought it looked very in­ter­est­ing.

Go­ing into it I had nextto-no ex­pe­ri­ence, other than watch­ing bits on YouTube. I didn’t ex­pect it to be such a dif­fer­ent sport, and such a ca­reer-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me, but I have loved it.

It has ba­si­cally been like work­ing on and learn­ing an en­tirely new sport and try­ing to un­der­stand it com­pletely from scratch. How dif­fer­ent is coach­ing blind cricket to the con­ven­tional game? The per­cep­tion is that it would be dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent, but the re­al­ity is that it is the same coach­ing. Good coach­ing is good coach­ing re­gard­less of the sport. Of course you are teach­ing play­ers to play in a cer­tain way and you are work­ing on in­di­vid­ual tech­niques.

I played in­ter­na­tional age-group cricket, I was in the Eng­land U15s and played some sec­ond XI stuff for Hamp­shire and Der­byshire.

Although I didn’t achieve quite what I wanted in the game as a player, I think that helps me a lot as a coach – I un­der­stand the pit­falls.

I have been very lucky to get into this po­si­tion and now it is about help­ing oth­ers make the most of their op­por­tu­ni­ties. How has the game pro­gressed in your time in charge? I will have been in the role for four years come April – that will com­plete a cy­cle with a 40-over and 20-over World Cup.

The sport has con­sis­tently moved for­ward in that time. Play­ing num­bers are up from about 15 in the squad when I first started to 40 now. That does not com­pare to In­dia or Pak­istan, who have thou­sands but it’s a start.

We pride our­selves on giv­ing play­ers the best in terms of prepa­ra­tion. On my first tour we had one physio and two coaches. Now we are head­ing to In­dia for the World Cup later this month with a whole team of coaches, strength and con­di­tion­ing in­cluded, a nu­tri­tion­ist, a doc­tor and a per­for­mance an­a­lyst. How far can this side go in In­dia? From when I started this is the strong­est side we have had. It is tour­na­ment cricket and we are hon­est about where we have been; we have never beaten In­dia in our his­tory. But we pushed them very close last year when they came over here, par­tic­u­larly at the Oval when we came within a few balls.

It is a bit of a David vs Go­liath; we un­der­stand the chal­lenge of the Sub­Con­ti­nent, but we are go­ing there with the most tal­ented group I have seen in my time.

Mak­ing progress: Nathan Foy, of the Eng­land Vis­ually Im­paired Cricket team, left, with head coach Ross Hunter

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