England Visually Impaired are preparing for an Aussie onslaught right from the first ball in tomorrow’s series opener.
Ross Hunter’s side will play hosts Australia in the eight-game Lord’s Taverners International Blind Cricket Series, comprising five ODIs and three Twenty20 fixtures, all in Adelaide.
The opening T20 will see the sides renew rivalries for the first time since meeting in the 2014 ODI Blind World Cup in South Africa.
T20 captain Luke Sugg scored a century in that game, which England won by 146 runs, and he is conscious of the advances made by their opponents in the year since that last encounter.
Sugg said: “It is England v Australia; it is going to be fierce from ball one and we’re looking forward to a hard, competitive game and really picking up on what the Australians can do.
“The T20 matches are an important part of this series and tomorrow’s game will be a great way to start things off, getting out on the field and seeing what the Australians are made of.”
ODI captain Matt Dean is also looking forward to the challenge of facing this Australian team on home soil: “Last time we played Australia in the ODI World Cup in Cape Town we dominated, so we want to know their response to that. There are new faces in their team and a new head coach so they have taken action and we’ll see what that action is.
“We’ve had some tough sessions since arriving in Adelaide to make sure we are prepared. We are in a really good place and have no injuries so everyone is fresh, fit and ready to go.”
England previously played Australia in multi-game series in 2012, 2008 and 2004 and Dean is keen to draw on those experiences to both help and inspire newer squad members.
“The senior players really want to share the experiences we have had with the new players in the team as we know how amazing it is to play Australia and win.
“We want to make sure the new players leave with that same feeling and experience.”
Sugg added: “We have a huge hunger to beat Australia in this series. Matt and I were in the teams that beat Australia in 2004 and 2008 but also in the team that lost to them in 2012 so that hunger for us and a couple of other guys is huge.
“For new guys like Ed Hossell and Justin Hollingsworth, who haven’t experienced an Australia v England series, it is going to be a great driver and push us throughout.”
Competition for places in the team is strong with Dean confident in the abilities of each player.
Nets action from Adelaide as England VI blow off the cobwebs ahead of the series opener against Australia on Friday. pic.twitter.com/5kwiElL1C9
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 20, 2016
“Selection is going to be tougher than ever,” he said.
“We have a squad of 15, which is smaller than we normally take but that is because the quality of this 15 is so high and the fitness so great that we know we can rely on all to come on and do the job.
“We also have a few new editions such as Amin Afshari – a B1 who has come over to cricket from goalball. He is really determined and takes everything on board. If he has the opportunity to play he will make an impression.
“We are also welcoming Rob Comber back into the team and we know the Aussies fear him so he is a great asset.”
Tomorrow’s T20, which starts at 3.15am GMT, will be followed by five 40-over games with the series culminating in two T20s, on Saturday 30 January and Sunday 31 January respectively.
England Visually Impaired Australia series squad
Matt Dean (London Metro, ODI captain)
Luke Sugg (Warwickshire Bears, T20 captain)
Amin Afshari (Kent Spitfires)
Amit Amin (London Metro)
Peter Blueitt (Yorkshire VICC)
Mark Bond (London Metro)
Rob Comber (Kent Spitfires)
Dan Field (Sussex Sharks)
Justin Hollingsworth (Warwickshire Bears)
Ed Hossell (Somerset VICC)
Hassan Khan (London Metro)
Mahomed Khatri (Warwickshire Bears)
Si Ledwith (Sussex Sharks)
James Millard (Sussex Sharks)
Mark Turnham (Warwickshire VICC)
Australia VI v England VI series fixtures
22 January 2016: Australia VI v England VI (T20), Park 25, Adelaide
23 January 2016: Australia VI v England VI (ODI), Park 25, Adelaide
24 January 2016: Australia VI v England VI (ODI), Park 25, Adelaide
26 January 2016: Australia VI v England VI (ODI), Park 25, Adelaide
27 January 2016: Australia VI v England VI (ODI), Park 25, Adelaide
29 January 2016: Australia VI v England VI (ODI), Park 25, Adelaide
30 January 2016: Australia VI v England VI (T20), Park 25, Adelaide
31 January 2016: Australia VI v England VI (T20), Park 25, Adelaide