In­jury stopped me bowl­ing so I took up bat­ting

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE - THIS WEEK... JONNY GALE Eng­land Learn­ing Dis­abil­i­ties bats­man

Age: 22 Teams: Sur­rey, Eng­land

What’s your story? I was di­ag­nosed with autism as a child and my first ex­pe­ri­ence of cricket came when I was about eight at an af­ter-school club down the road from where I lived in West­cott, Sur­rey. Be­cause I went to a spe­cial needs school, cricket wasn’t re­ally played much, so the only way I could ac­cess it was through a main­stream en­vi­ron­ment. A cou­ple of years later, I went along to the club I’m still a mem­ber of – West­cott CC – so I’ve been play­ing main­stream cricket since I was ten and then at about 13 I first dis­cov­ered dis­abil­ity cricket. How did you get in­volved with Sur­rey and Eng­land? I got in­volved with Sur­rey through a char­ity called The Change Foun­da­tion, who had a pro­gramme called Hit the Top. It was an an­nual tour­na­ment in the school hol­i­days and the char­ity had con­nec­tions with the county boards, so Sur­rey of­fered me a place in their hard­ball dis­abil­ity team. Through that I found out about the path­way into the Eng­land Learn­ing Dis­abil­i­ties team and my coach put me for­ward when I was 15. I was lucky to be with the right peo­ple at the right time and I’ve loved my in­ter­na­tional ca­reer so far. What type of player are you? I’m an open­ing bats­man these days but I used to be one of the main bowlers for Eng­land. How­ever, a few years ago I picked up a knee in­jury and all I could do was bat. I spent more time prac­tis­ing bat­ting and it paid off. I was com­ing in at nine, ten or 11 when I first started for Eng­land but then my bat­ting re­ally clicked and the 2015 tour of Aus­tralia was my first as an opener. Sud­denly you’re out there from ball one with the re­spon­si­bil­ity to get your team off to a good start but it’s a pres­sure I en­joy. What does 2017 hold? We’re build­ing to­wards a Tri-Na­tions se­ries against Aus­tralia and South Africa in July. It’s the first time Eng­land have hosted the tour­na­ment for the best part of ten years and it’s al­ways chal­leng­ing. My first was in South Africa in 2011 when we won. Aus­tralia had won all three be­fore that, so it was nice to come into a team that wasn’t win­ning and help change that around. Since then we won an­other se­ries in Aus­tralia in 2015, so we’re hop­ing to make it three in a row. What are Eng­land’s chances in the Tri-Na­tions? I’d like to think we’ll be favourites head­ing into the tour­na­ment but with that comes a lot of pres­sure. Be­cause it’s in Eng­land, you’ve then got that ex­tra pres­sure to per­form in front of your friends and fam­ily but it’s a spe­cial feel­ing to rep­re­sent your coun­try at home and hope­fully we can thrive. This could be my one and only chance to rep­re­sent my coun­try at home, so of course I’d like to be remembered as the one who got that fan­tas­tic ton in the fi­nal or some­thing like that.

Giv­ing back: Jonny Gale tak­ing part in a game with stu­dents dur­ing an ECB Chance to Shine event

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