Disabled cricketers encouraged to get involved in the national championships

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Disabled cricketers in and around Tring are being encouraged to take to the pitch for Buckinghamshire as the county enters its first ever team into the England and Wales Cricket Board’s National Disability Championships.

This summer, Bucks will make their bow in the competition, playing Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire, Sussex and Middlesex – home and away.

The team is for people with any disability, except for visual impairments and severe learning difficulties, who play adapted versions. People with physical disabilities, learning disabilities or mental health issues are eligible.

This includes anyone from wheelchair bound amputees, to people that have a mild disorder of autism or Asperger’s – the game is open to all.

Blind and visually impaired people play cricket with a plastic ball full of ball bearings. The ball is bowled underarm and has to bounce once in each half of the pitch before reaching the batsman.

People with severe learning or physical disabilities can play table cricket. Seated around a table tennis table, players deliver a weighted plastic ball through a ball launcher, bat with a small wooden bat, and control sliding fielders on the panels around the edge of the table.

A total of 21 of the 38 first class and minor counties run cricket for disabled people. England has teams for blind and visually impaired people and deaf cricketers, as well as for people with learning disabilities and physical disabilities.

Last year, England’s physical disability team played against Pakistan in Dubai, and the blind team took part in the World Cup, won by India. This March, England’s learning disability squad tours Australia.

Bucks has three coaching centres for disabled cricketers around the county: Stoke Mandeville Stadium, Aylesbury, on Thursdays from 6-7pm, High Wycombe, and Milton Keynes.

The best players from each centre will be invited to a performance coaching – the first session is in Wokingham, with former England’s women coach Chris Ellison on March 21.

People who join one of the three coaching centres after this date will also be considered for the county team.

Anyone interested in going along to Stoke Mandeville or High Wycombe should contact Keith Dale on keith.dale@buckscb.org. For the Milton Keynes sessions contact Colin Kightley on colin.kightley@buckscb.org