England Visually Impaired (VI) returned to winning ways as they defeated Australia in the fifth and final ODI of the Lord’s Taverners International Blind Cricket Series.
The result left England 4-1 up overall in the series.
After a delayed start due to inclement weather, England captain Matt Dean won the toss and sent Australia in to bat.
The visitors showed two changes to the XI that ran out in the previous game with Luke Sugg returning from injury and Amin Afshari replacing Hassan Khan to make his debut and become the 63rd-capped England VI player.
Mark Bond also retained his place in the side following his strong display in the fourth ODI.
England piled on the pressure early and reaped the rewards as opener Michael Hamilton went for a duck, followed soon after by Michael Zannis.
Wicket-keeper Dan Field was impressive throughout, with two stumpings including that of Ricky Segura, who went for 68.
Pete Blueitt (category B1 – completely blind) also put in a great performance with the ball to take two wickets while Ed Hossell continued to break England VI records as he bettered his third-ODI haul of four for 27 with a five-for.
The strong bowling and fielding display meant Australia were restricted to 261 for eight at the end of their 40 overs.
With rain threatening and a minimum of 15 overs to reach to constitute a match, England needed quick runs from the off with a required rate of just more than five an over.
Openers Dean and Field did just that and England were 129 for nought by the end of the 15th over (Australia were 78 at the same point in their innings).
Australia managed one ball in the 16th over before rain stopped play. With no sign of letting up, the umpires called a finish to the game and England ran out winners by 51 runs.
Both Dean and Field carried their bats following their match-winning 129-run stand.
Between his 58 not out and two stumpings, Field was the deserved man of the match.
Reflecting on the game, he said: “Before going out to open the batting with Deano, Ross [Hunter, Head Coach] had given us the comparative scores of where we needed to be each over, from 15 through to 35. We just decided to get ahead of the rate as quickly as we could which, thankfully, we did.
“We needed to be going at five an over and we were already at seven in the first over, so once we were ahead of the rate we pretty much stayed in front and in control.”
The Susex Sharks man also downplayed his all-round efforts: “It was definitely nice to be named man of the match, although I feel a bit ashamed as Ed Hossell got five for 35 and broke England VI’s best bowling figures, which he’d only set a couple of days earlier.
“I think he was a little bit unfortunate not to get it, especially given he was the runner for Matt Dean and so was on the pitch the whole game.
“It is just nice to make contributions with the bat, which I don’t always get to do, so when you get your opportunity it is nice to take it and get some runs.”
Performance levels were also at the forefront of Field’s and his teammates’ minds: “It was always our goal to win the series. We played some great cricket against India last summer and didn’t get the results we wanted but I think we showed that we were really capable of mixing it with a team that were better than us.
“Across this whole series we have probably lost 15 overs of cricket – the rest of it we have been able to win and control and everyone is absolutely ecstatic with a job well done.
“With two T20 matches left on this tour, we’re all fit and raring to go and people are probably as fit now as they were for the first game, which is credit to the ECB and the support they give us.”
England Visually Impaired team
Matt Dean (captain)