"Police engaging with youth projects is key to us all moving forward as a community....We felt honoured to be invited to 'challenge' the youth to a game....what is important is not who wins but instead it is that everyone enjoys themselves, that we all work together as a team and that those attending learn to apply themselves, learn skills, learn to work together as part of a team and most of all have fun!”"
Success for Surrey Disability Cricket
The summer of 2010 heralded a new era for Surrey’s disability cricketers as they were entered into the hard ball British Association for Cricketers with Disabilities National League (BACD) format for the very first time. The players all have to have a physical or learning disability and they all have to be 14yrs of age and above which gives a huge emphasis on elite level cricket across the country.
The Surrey side is coached by C4C’s Danny Baker.
Cricket for Change’s ‘Hit The Top’ programme has helped hundreds of young people access cricket locally and the junior Surrey team has always been of high quality and with good success having won 8 of the last 9 ‘Hit the Top’ county competitions and it was going to be a huge challenge to replicate these results against adult opposition in hard ball cricket.
Having done trials and several hundred phone calls, a squad of 16 was finalized with only one goal, to make sure that we get 11 players out onto the pitch. The young squad consisted of largely school boys as well as one member of the England Learning Disability squad and two physically disabled trialists who were good enough for selection.
The squad were unsure of what to expect but in their debut match but broke all records with a new high score of 340 for 7 in their 40 overs and bowling the opposition out for just 80, with ‘Hit the Top’ players Lodge and Green dominating proceedings with fifties and most of the wickets.
Isle of Wight were next and having won the BACD championship recently
Hampshire were a major threat to most teams and Surrey also lost to them but followed that match up with comfortable wins against Essex, Devon and Isle of Wight. These games saw players such as Lodge and Stenning make big hundreds and the ‘Hit the Top’ spin twins of Kenward and Green terrorizing all opponents with Green’s hat-trick against the Isle of Wight a particular highlight.
Surrey had rightly earned their place among the elite of disability cricket and their first ever season saw the boys only lose 1 of their 6 games and every county heard about the results and performances but didn’t know what to expect from the boys. The mix of youthful exuberance and naivety was a real treat but at times, a real sense of frustration for all the staff.
The boys were rewarded for all their efforts with a National semi-final against Lancashire and with their guys having been playing together for a number of years and being a more physically disabled side proved once again to be the Surrey team’s downfall.
The boys are fantastic ambassadors and the 9 players from the ‘Hit The Top’ programme that have represented the hard ball county team have improved massively and with a good winter and a few recruits, the group could make a final in the not too distant future. (2011 also saw the team again reach the BACD semi-finals but this time fell to Cheshire, who lost to eventual winners Lancashire– 2012 will be Surrey’s year perhaps?) Their achievements were also acknowledged nationally.
John Kenward, Tayler Young, Jamie Green, Chris Lodge, Jon Gale and Lee Stenning all represented England Learning Difficulties squads over the summer (2010) and they are all players who have come directly from the ‘Hit The Top’ project. Shazad Akmal and Zahid Bahar were all selected in the performance squad for physically disability cricket and the charity are very proud to be helping others access good cricket opportunities.
Already champions in their field, they certainly have the talent, drive and determination to be BACD National Champions!
Report by Danny Baker, Surrey Junior Hard Ball Disability Cricket Team Coach
- BACD International Selection - From Surrey CCC website - July 2011
- Click on the logo below to link to BACD website