Sussex County Cricket Club, through their Sussex Cricket in the Community initiative, have recently launched their first ever County Junior deaf team and welcomed some special guests from the England international side to the Hamilton Lodge School and College for deaf Children in Brighton, for a landmark launch event.
The club are going to be running two boys sides (U14s and U15s) and a mixed age girls side, who take part in fortnightly indoor training at Brighton College, who have warmly supported the new venture by kindly offering the use of their sports hall.
This will be followed by outdoor summer training, and matches organised and potentially inter-county competitions during the summer.
The ECB are keen to encourage Sussex to nominate players for their talent ID development centres, where talented players can push for international honours.
Phil Hudson, Head Coach and Umesh Valjee MBE, Captain of the England Deaf Team, were on hand to launch the new teams at Hamilton Lodge, where the Deaf Cricket programme has been actively delivered for the past three years.
Hudson said: “I think it’s amazing what Sussex are doing and a number of the counties are doing it now. Disability Cricket is a real focus of the ECB and what Sussex are doing with this partnership, and trying to spread. Deaf Cricket around the county is massively important so that we can build up the playing pool. We need more cricketers so we have some harder selection issues and some young players coming through.”
Valjee said: “I visited Hamilton Lodge to give advice about Disability Cricket and to tell the deaf children about my role, and try to encourage them to be interested and involved in cricket. Deaf children don’t often have any access to mainstream sport; it is very limited to them. This setup and the specific deaf teams open the door so they can be involved in cricket.”
Sussex Cricket Development Officer, and County Junior Deaf Manager Matt Parsons said: “We’re now in a position with Disability Cricket where we can offer any boy or girl across Sussex the chance to come and have a go at playing the game. It is very much a county-wide initiative; the professional staff are aware of it and we’re trying to mirror the mainstream Junior County Age Group model which is headed by Keith Greenfield. Another key part is the link with the ECB and establishing a process where any real talented young deaf cricketers have the chance to progress into the national game.”
At the mainstream County and Area Junior Squad Awards Evening in November 2014, all of Sussex’s County Disability Squads were recognised with awards and the Deaf setup presented with three awards on the evening.