Englands Learning Disability Cricketers retain Ashes in a stylish win over Australia in Brisbane

The England Intellectual Disability Team sing the national anthem before the International Cricket Inclusion Series match between Australia & England at Northern Suburbs District Cricket Club (Credit: ECB)

England’s Learning Disability cricketers retained the Ashes with a resounding eight-wicket win over Australia in the Commonwealth Bank International Inclusion series in Brisbane.

Organised by Cricket Australia, the International Cricket Inclusion Series is being held at the newly built Australian Cricket Campus from June 1-15. Including all three national disability squads, intellectual disability, deaf and visual impairment, squads from Australia and England play five T20Is and three ODI matches.

This is first and long awaited return to international cricket for the players since 2019.

Contributing to the Ashes win was Chris Edwards with another outstanding bowling and fielding effort that side skittled the hosts for 71 before reaching their target in 12 overs to take an unassailable 5-1 lead with two games still to play.

A convincing 4-1 win in the T20 series meant just one victory was needed from three ODI encounters, and the longer 40-over format was always likely to showcase England’s greater depth, particularly with the bat. But it was with the ball that they proved particularly destructive. Teenage paceman Kester Sainsbury (19) was the star of the show, ripping out Australia’s middle order with 3-25.

Tayler Young set the tone by bowling Boyd Duffield for 4 in the third over with the score on 8 after Australia had chosen to bat, and when the veteran Gavan Hicks was run out for 16 at 32-2 in the ninth, they were firmly on the back foot.

Sainsbury, getting good bounce and carry, reduced the hosts to 32-3 when he had skipper Haydn Brumm caught behind for 1, and after he castled Joel Corbett (10), one of Australia’s few batting successes of the series, they were reeling at 35-4 in the 12th over.

England needed no invitation to move in for the kill. Sainsbury finished his work with the wicket of Craig Blaschke for 2 and a smart bit of glovework from Jack Perry – fresh from a brilliant T20 century yesterday – had Nat Young stumped off Alex Jervis to leave Australia in disarray at 46-6.

Left-arm spinner Kieron McKinney (2-4) finished the job when he bowled Jamie Phillips for 10 with two balls of the 22nd over left. That he was one of only three men in double figures spoke volumes for England’s dominance.

Though Jonny Gale was dismissed early on for England, caught behind off Matt Lawrence in the second over with the score on seven, the unflappable pair of Dan Bowser and skipper Edwards shut the door on any hopes Australia had of producing something extraordinary.

Relentlessly punishing anything off beam, the pair appeared to have eased England to a nine-wicket stroll before Bowser (41 from 34) was pinned leg before by Hicks with three needed. It was left to Ronnie Jackson to stroll out and hit the winning boundary to see England home with his skipper undefeated on 16.

Edwards, who now has two Ashes-winning campaigns under his belt, is keen to push on and finish the job. “This is brilliant, but we’ve still got two games to go, and we don’t want to take our foot off the gas,” he said. “We were really disappointed to lose under the lights on Friday night – conditions that were a new experience for us all – and I’m pleased we bounced back in style.

Chris Edwards, Squad Captain & UK Sports Association Ambassador

Chris Edwards continues “Jack Perry’s 100 yesterday showed character – that was really special – and everyone’s chipped in throughout, with different people performing well at different times.

Kester – and Tayler’s – spell up front today, though, that was phenomenal. They attacked from ball one. Kester may only be 19 – but he’s a young man with an old man’s head. He bowled with lovely rhythm. He was so good, I thought, ‘let’s bowl him through.’”

Sainsbury himself was particularly pleased. “I’m overwhelmed, really,” he said. “I didn’t really feel like I’d bowled particularly well in the T20s, so to get the chance today to open – and bowl out – well, I’m over the moon.

“Each wicket showed the passion and how happy I was to get it. I’ve worked, as we all have, so hard over the winter. We thought we could win but didn’t want to get carried away as we didn’t know what to expect [from Australia] when we got here.

“It’s just an incredible feeling to be an Ashes winner again. To be part of a team that has done this twice feels amazing – we back ourselves and our ability and we just keep going – thanks to the backroom staff, who keep us so fit in our winter training camps.”

The penultimate game of the series is at 1am BST on Wednesday 15th June 2022.

View the results and full scorecard here

The UK Sports Association (UKSA) works closely with the ECB to support opportunities for elite cricket players with intellectual impairment.  This partnership has resulted in a strong team of talented players led by ECB, reaching the highest levels of play and competing across the world.

International players, Chris Edwards and Jonny Gale are both UK Sports Association Ambassadors and proud supporters of the principles of UKSA’s My Sport, My Voice! Programme.

For more information on disability cricket and the team, contact UKSA or ECB Head of Communications Danny Reuben via email  danny.reuben@ecb.co.uk


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Story and photos courtesy of ECB