CHICHESTER College’s James Millard admits England’s visually-impaired cricket team are targeting nothing less than victory at next month’s Blind World Cup.
Millard will join 16 other visually-impaired players flying to South Africa to take on the best sides from around the globe, with England kicking off their campaign against Sri Lanka on November 27.
The 18-year-old suffers from retinoblastoma – a condition he has had since birth – but he says he doesn’t let it affect his pursuit of being a champion.
It is Millard’s second World Cup after he made it to the semi-finals of the T20 competition in India two years ago with England. And he believes the side are in a much stronger position this time around as they look to get their hands on the title for the first time in England’s history.
“A lot of hard work and build-up is coming to a close so hopefully it will pay off and we will have a great tour,” said Millard, who plays his domestic cricket for Sussex.
“India was my first tour. India is an incredible country to be in and with such a great bunch of lads. It was a brilliant opportunity.
“We learned a lot about each other and I learned a lot about the game. It was a great opportunity to go but this time we can do better.
“We are definitely in it to win it. There is no reason why we can’t go all the way.
“Ross (Hunter, the coach) has said there will be squad rotation and hopefully when the opportunity comes along I can represent my country well.”
This year’s World Cup represents an eight-year journey since Millard beginning his visually-impaired cricket career. But he believes that he still has a lot to learn as he aims to be around the side for years to come.
“I started playing for Sussex when I was ten. I started in the juniors and progressed to the senior team,” Millard added.
“I never played red-ball cricket as I was born visually impaired but I was brought up doing everything everyone else did and I’ve played sighted football since the age of six.
“It’s given me the chance to meet other people which is incredible and playing a very high standard of cricket is something I love to do.
“Some of the more experienced boys have all been around for a while and you learn a lot from them.
“They are a great bunch of lads and I will try to soak up as much knowledge as I can from them.”
* The ECB is an inclusive organisation providing support and a pathway for disability cricket from grassroots to elite. Follow the England visually-impaired squad in South Africa at www.ecb.co.uk