England and Middlesex bowler Toby Rowland-Jones praises the impact of disability cricket
- Credit: Archant
England bowler Toby Roland-Jones believes playing disability cricket could be the perfect way for people to develop key life skills both on and off the pitch.
The Middlesex quick will be sidelined for the entire 2018 season due to injury but found time for a net of a different sort at Lord’s, thanks to the Lord’s Taverners and the Super1s programme.
Super1s gives young people aged 12-25 with disabilities the chance to regularly play cricket, creating community cricket hubs for young people to receive coaching from county cricket boards, with participants getting the chance to compete against peers and enjoy the benefits of sport and an active lifestyle.
That took a group from Hackney all the way to cricket HQ for a net at the indoor school, with Middlesex players Roland-Jones, Nick Gubbins, John Simpson and Tom Barber all taking part.
And for Roland-Jones, it is opportunities like this from which disability cricket in the country can keep growing for years to come.
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“It was nice to get in there and have some time with the guys, they all looked like they were having fun which is great, they were having a great time and it’s nice to come and support it,” he said.
“The Super1s offers these guys some of the life skills you can get from cricket, learning how to play as a team and the fun you can all get together when that’s mixed with competition.
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“The Super1s and the Lord’s Taverners are doing just that – they’re getting guys together and uniting them to play a game of cricket, but it’s about more than that when it comes to the skills.
“Growing up and playing a lot of cricket, it was the base of my social life and when you play from a young age into carrying it on as an adult, you learn about mucking in and having everyone on board for a common cause.
“You’re all aiming to a common goal, that’s something that I’ve learned and has been a big part of my upbringing, it’s great to see it translating across to these guys as well.”
Super 1s provides young people with a chance to realise their potential, both on and off the pitch, enabling them to discover what they can do, not what they can’t, and become role models for their peers.
Now the programme - which started in four London boroughs and now operates in them all - is expanding, with Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Yorkshire the next areas set to benefit from the initiative.
And with county and regional finals held at iconic venues including Edgbaston, Emirates Old Trafford and Lord’s itself, there is certainly the opportunity for skills to hit the spotlight.
One of those to feel the force of the talent was Middlesex opener Gubbins - only able to doff his cap to some excellent bowling from Hackney’s Richard Barnes after being well and truly bamboozled in the nets.
“I got bowled around my legs trying to play a paddle shot – it probably wasn’t the right shot to play in that situation but the lad is a good bowler, he was getting the ball to move away from me quite nicely,” he said.
“It was really good fun, there was good fun and banter flying around from the kids and everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves which is what it is all about.
“That’s why we play the game, there’s a chance to build some friendships with one another and there’s the opportunity to develop those skills for other life situations that they wouldn’t otherwise get.
“To get the chance to play at Lord’s - you don’t get those opportunities anywhere else.”
Super 1s is a national disability cricket programme, run by the Lord’s Taverners, which provides disabled young people aged 12-25 the opportunity to engage in cricket within a community hub environment, providing regular opportunities to compete against peers and enjoy the benefits of sport and an active lifestyle.