England PD teams continue to lead in Australia
A nail-biting, one-run defeat under the lights for England’s Learning Disability side kept hosts Australia’s hopes of a share of the Commonwealth Bank International Inclusion Series alive.
Targeting 124 to go 4-0 up at the halfway point of their eight-game rubber after an impressive 49-run win in the morning’s first T20 meeting, Chris Edwards’ men fell agonisingly short at the National Cricket Campus in Brisbane.
A chase that had seemed paced to perfection thanks to a second-wicket partnership of 69 between Jonny Gale (37) and Dan Bowser (28) ended in disappointment as Tayler Young was run out scrambling for a second run to tie the game with England seven wickets down.
It was a fitting end to a fascinating and dramatic day, one on which fortunes also see-sawed, albeit the other way, for England’s Deaf side. George Greenway’s men showed stirring resolve to take a 2-1 lead in the third of their five-game T20 contest, a performance all the more impressive having lost two top-order batters to hamstring strains in a seven-wicket defeat first up. Their response could not have been better scripted, as they came out all guns blazing to post a steepling 151-4 and victory in the afternoon meeting by 33 runs.
The depth of talent was richly highlighted across both sides. LD stalwarts Gale and Bowser – though thwarted later – stood out earlier on, posting 52 each in England’s daunting 162-3, and there was an aggressive 63 off 34 balls from deaf skipper Greenway with nine fours and two sixes.
However, all three were eclipsed by the all-round display of Deaf newcomer Josh Price.
His all-round display – a run-a-ball 45 at the top of the order – was followed by a beguiling 3-8 with the ball, as the hosts were slowly squeezed from a promising 65-1 after eight overs to finish well short on 118-9.
“The first couple of games haven’t gone so well for me personally,” he said. “So it feels really good to contribute towards winning the match with bat and ball – I feel like I earned my shirt today.”
Price’s all-action display epitomised the spirit in the Deaf camp following a bleak morning in which they mustered a below-par 90-9, a total not helped by the upset of injuries to veteran middle-order batter Mike O’Mahony and keeper Stephen Pope, who both pulled up after completing runs.
The latter is likely to miss the rest of the tour, while O’Mahony – who gamely returned to finish unbeaten on 33 – will need assessing before Sunday’s fourth of five T20 encounters.
Price was quick to praise England’s preparation as a factor in victory. “A lot of the work we put in back home has been geared towards putting in distractions and different scenarios, rather than just focusing on batting and bowling in nets, so that we are used to being out of our comfort zone,” he added. “That certainly helped us today,” Price and his team-mates will go into Sunday’s next game knowing they have plenty of stomach for the fight.
For LD senior player Gale, though there was disappointment in a defeat as rare as hen’s teeth for this side – he was in no doubt England would bounce back strongly in Sunday’s final T20 game before three 40-over ODIs. “Hard work pays off – and we have really put it in over the winter,” he said. “People talk about cultures in teams – we have built a really strong unit, both individually and collectively. We have been playing together for a long time – and long may it continue.”
The teams enjoy a well-earned rest day tomorrow (Saturday) before battle resumes on Sunday morning. The LD side play their final T20 at 4.45am BST, with the Deaf completing their T20 rubber at 9am and 5pm BST