ICC Europe's Chris Porter appointed Head Coach of the England Blind Cricket Squad
Disability cricket is currently going through an unprecedented time of change and development, with change in personnel and the way we view it, all led by ECB National Disability Manager, Ian Martin- it has an exciting future ahead.
This development has lead to ICC Europe’s very own ICC Regional Development Officer, Chris Porter being appointed as Head Coach of the England Blind Cricket Squad. The ‘One Game’ pledge developed by the England and Wales Cricket Board encompassed for the first time disability cricket, which has lead to financial backing, improved facilities and a signed MOU. With Porter heading up the England national squad he is hoping to begin to bring a lot of what he learns into the European region.
The National Visually Impaired team comprises of three categories B1: Completely Blind Cricketers, these might have slight Light and Dark perception. B2: Partially Sighted Cricketers. B3: Partially Blind Cricketers.
Porter was first appointed in November 2009 as caretaker coach -after Jason Bowen left the role- through a chance encounter with Ian Martin at a local cricket ground watching a disability cricket match. "We were watching the game and spoke in-depth about this side of the game; Jason had just left the role and there was a caretaker position available so I put my hand up for it."
The team trained throughout the winter focusing on the match versus World Champions Pakistan, in Dubai in April. Porter explains what he did to submerge himself within the role: "When I was appointed in the caretaker role I spent half a day blindfolded, whilst still attempting to do my day-to-day work. I also took it to the next level by playing four sessions of cricket blindfolded, it really helped to begin to understand what playing difficulties the players I was about to coach had to deal with."
The match versus Pakistan ended in a heavy defeat for the England team; which Porter himself couldn’t be in Dubai for because he was at the ICC European Centre of Excellence Academy, La Manga. "The result didn’t really reflect the performance, to go straight into the international format of the game; the team’s performance was really impressive and showed great optimism for improved development."
England currently play and train in the regional format of the game which uses a football that is bowled over-arm, as opposed to the international form which is played with a white ball and bowled underarm. The new Head Coach has pin-pointed a key aim: "My main aim is to develop the international game to our regional form, so that we can train and practice in the international format and become a lot more competitive- we are playing India this summer, the 2nd best team in the world and it would be great to see some improvement."
On a personal coaching level Porter also helps that this will develop him as a coach: "I really think this position will help me with my communication and inter-personal skills as well as my leadership ability. It is a challenging coaching role, but one that I think will enhance my player-centre attitude to coaching and my ability to focus on what that player needs at that time. I think as a coach it is really important to help develop a player no matter where they are on their player path."
Within the role the Regional Development Officer wants to develop awareness of Visual Impairment cricket in Europe and try to help the progress of it on the continent. "I am researching different ideas that I could to engage the team with Europe, one of them is playing a tour in Europe. If we can proceed to get the England Blind Cricket Team playing games in Europe, it will hopefully help to promote the game across the continent."