A guide to disability cricket
My name is Darren Douglas, and my work has led to me becoming a bit of an unwitting guru in some fields. I’ve previously written guides to ‘childproofing your home’, ‘exercise for seniors’, and how to access ‘wheelchair-friendly, accessible travel’. My latest work is A Guide to Disability Cricket.
I have spent a considerable amount of time researching and producing a guide to disability cricket. The idea originated when a colleague, and keen cricketer, mentioned how the cricketing populace appeared to be lacking a comprehensive resource to inform aspiring cricketers with disabilities.
I soon realised that this was indeed the case, and that whilst there are varying degrees of infrastructure and support available for disability cricket, to find this out can take a fair amount of time. As a result, I took it upon myself to try and compile a guide that would help those interested in cricket, within the disabled community, wherever they may be in the UK.
The journey has led to me speaking with people at the ECB and various country cricket boards, as well as some National Disability Sports Organisations (NDSOs). The advice and guidance that I’ve received, has generally been enlightening and helpful, whilst also revealing the occasional frustrations felt by those involved.
Only now do I realise how many levels of bureaucracy and communication can be involved in an area such as disability sports. This is in part down to different organisations having different approaches and priorities, which in turn can lead to delays in forming any real consensus, and crucially a decision to move forward with.
However, through my experience in creating the guide to disability cricket, such politics have been apparent at a very minor scale. Instead, what has been encouraging, is the number of people within cricket who are keen to improve the accessibility of the game for people with disabilities, and to develop their understanding of what can be done.
I’m hopeful that cricket around England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland can continue to be proactive in reaching out to people who are blind, deaf, and who have physical or learning disabilities. You may be surprised and encouraged by what’s already available, table cricket and walking football are examples of how the game is being adapted to fit a wide variety of needs and abilities.
To start your search, the official advice is that you should email [email protected], or alternatively contact your local County Cricket Board and they will be able to assist you.
For those who are interested in participating in Deaf Cricket, the go to source for this is the England Cricket Association for the Deaf (ECAD). The only qualification you need is that you wear hearing aids or Cochlear implants, and there are established clubs in Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Surrey and Yorkshire.
As for the Visually Impaired version of the game, Blind Cricket England & Wales (BCEW) are the organisation that maintains its ongoing functionality, alongside British Blind Sport (BBS). Between them there is a domestic cup competition and a ‘national’ league, and their website has plenty of useful information.
Finally, according to the ECB, there are 34 teams competing in PD/LD county competitions, these are divided between Super 9’s Cricket (softball), and the D40 League (hardball). The British Association for Cricketers with Disabilities (BACD) are a helpful source for regional competitions, and they can also provide details on the different eligibility criteria.
Take a read of my guide and let me know what you think, and if it leaves you with any unanswered questions, then I’ll endeavour to do my best in filling in the blanks.