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