The passion brought to the field by cricketers living with disabilities is proof that cricket is Australia’s number one sport, off-spin legend Nathan Lyon has said.
- Nathan Lyon has run a coaching clinic for disabled cricketers in Adelaide
- The National Cricket Inclusion Championships will be held in January
- South Australia’s representative side is hoping to win for the third year running
The crowd favourite, known as Gary by his teammates, yesterday coached cricketers at a special Adelaide Oval clinic ahead of the Second Test against Pakistan.
“National Inclusion Ambassador is something I’ve been able to do for the last few years now and I personally get a big kick out of it,” Lyon said.
“You can see the passion people have for the game and I think it really shows that cricket is probably the number one sport in Australia.”
“There’s no reason people can’t come out and play, and if you do have any disabilities, there’s no boundaries.”
The session included fielding, bowling and batting advice for a variety of teams, including blind and vision impaired players, deaf and hard of hearing, and those with intellectual disabilities.
Where’s Travis Head?
Among those training in the clinic were members of the SA Cricket Association’s representative side, which will compete in the third National Cricket Inclusion Championships (NCIC) at Geelong this January.
Fast bowler Josh Waldhuter faced a few balls from Lyon and was bowled mid-stump in a Gary special.
Photo: Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon answers questions from the different teams. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
“I didn’t see where that one went, but I felt privileged, and I loved it,” he said.
“Nathan Lyon is a legend, a great guy and gives great advice, and it’s been fantastic to learn from him.”
James Amos-Treloar, from the SO Strikers, also faced Gary and received some bowling tips as well.
He said he loved being taught by Lyon but confessed his favourite player was fellow South Australian Travis Head.
“Where’s he?” James said.
Lord’s Taverners raising its profile
The session was organised by Lord Taverners Australia (TAV), a charity partner of Cricket Australia, which raises money for the NCIC each year and supports deaf, blind, intellectually impaired, indigenous and young girls to play sport.
TAV is seeking to raise its profile and is unofficially calling the Adelaide Test between Pakistan and Australia, which begins on Friday, the “inclusion test”.
“It’s also in recognition of South Australia’s long-held and progressive nature in the inclusion cricket space,” TAV National Marketing manager Phillip Drury said.
“It just made sense.
“Beyond Adelaide, it’s also about competing in a very competitive market and TAV wants all Australians to feel included and proud in their individual opportunity to contribute to the success of the campaign, in terms of crowd funding and by influencing the long-term sustainability of NCIC.”
Photo: SACA’s David Watson stirs up Josh Waldhuter for getting bowled by Nathan Lyon. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
Making sure no one is left behind
Overlooking the training session was SACA’s Inclusion, Participation and Club manager David Watson, who helps run the association’s development academy, which ultimately “streamlines players through to our representative teams”.
“This provides opportunity for our players with intellectual disabilities, our blind and vision impaired, our deaf and hard of hearing teams, so they have access to the elite facilities and high performance resources that the rest of our representative teams do,” he said.
“Really, it’s just making sure they’re not left behind and are provided the same opportunities that we provide our mainstream representative teams.”
He said SA had won the deaf and hard of hearing, and intellectual disability, categories for the past two years and were hoping to win them a third time in January.
“No pressure,” he laughed.
“We’ll see how we go.”
The NCIC begins on January 20 and the grand finals will be live streamed via Cricket Australia’s website.
Photo: Nathan Lyon poses for a photo with the players after the clinic at Adelaide Oval. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)
For Lyon, however, who participated in a question and answer session with the players and offered playing advice — along with an explanation on why he left the Redbacks to play for his home state of New South Wales in 2013 — it was also about trying to keep the game fun.
“I love coming here and seeing all the boys and girls running around,” he said.
Australia’s second test against Pakistan starts at 2pm Friday.
Photo: A cricketer launches a delivery inside the Adelaide Oval practice nets. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)