England Head of Disability Cricket, Ian Martin, has encouraged fans to arrive early at New Road this Friday when the ground will host a unique double header featuring the England Physical Disability team.
Worcestershire will host the red-letter day with the England PD team to play a Lord’s Taverners XI from 1pm before the Rapids host Derbyshire Falcons in their Vitality Blast clash.
It will be the first time the England PD team have featured in such a double header, where a major competitive match follows their own game, and the significance is not lost on Martin.
He is hoping Rapids and Falcons fans will seize the opportunity to also view the outstanding skills of the disability players in a rapidly expanding sport.
Martin, who has been in his ECB role for 15 years, said: “Friday is hugely significant for disability cricket because it is an opportunity to showcase the skills of our disabled players in the national squad.
“It is brilliant for our players to showcase their talent at such a wonderful venue and against a Lord’s Taverners XI, which we know is going to be really, really strong.
“What we hope from the day is that supporters will come in a little bit earlier to catch our game and then stay at New Road for the Blast game against Derbyshire Falcons in the evening.
“It’s really important we use this opportunity to showcase the talents of disabled people and to show the paying public that disabled people can play cricket to a really high level.
“Disability sport is often quite limited by the Paralympics, and people just think the Paralympics is the be-all and end-all. We can show here that talented people with a disability can pursue their sporting inspirations through the sport of cricket.”
The match takes place two days after the England Deaf, and Learning Disability teams begin their Ashes series in Australia and will help to highlight the benefits of the world-class Inclusive Cricket Centre that is set to be built at nearby Worcester University.
With the Disability Premier League set to be launched in August, Martin is forecasting a memorable summer for the game and is delighted with the way disability cricket is blossoming.
“This year, we are launching the Disability Premier League, a new competition for our most talented disabled players,” he said.
“We’ve got a domestic league system growing year on year for physical and learning disabled players, and we’ve also got a National Blind Cricket League. The game is growing rapidly.”
Worcestershire also staged the 2019 Physical Disability World Series at New Road, and Martin sees the city as “the hub of disability cricket going forward” with the new Inclusive Centre to provide a wealth of opportunities.
“I think it is not only the County Cricket Club embracing disability cricket, it is Worcestershire as a county,” he said.
“We have had long-held links now with the University and the development of the Inclusive Cricket Centre, supported by the County Board and the County Cricket Club.
“I very much see Worcester as the hub of all disability cricket going forward.
“The Inclusive Cricket Centre will be first of its type in the world, soundproof net lanes for our blind cricketers, again a first in the world, and it is a great project to celebrate inclusion, cricket partnerships between the County Club, the Cricket Board, the University, the City Council.
“I see Worcestershire being the home of England disability cricket for years to come using the new centre as a hub.
“The England disability teams will practice there and have access to the centre regularly.”
Tickets for the Worcestershire Rapids vs Derbyshire Falcons Vitality Blast Fixture includes entry for the England PD XI vs Lord’s Taverners.
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