HE might still be a teenager but Chichester’s James Millard is already gearing up for his first Blind World Cup with England’s visually-impaired cricket team – and his coach insists it won’t be his last.
Millard, who doesn’t turn 19 until next month, will head to South Africa as part of head coach Ross Hunter’s 17-man England squad who are looking to lift the World Cup for the first time ever.
While competition for places will be stiff, Hunter expects Millard to be pushing the experienced members of the squad all the way to play their first match against Sri Lanka on November 27.
And head coach Hunter insists the experience of taking part in a World Cup for the first time is something that will have lasting benefits for Chichester College pupil Millard and the rest of his career.
“James is one of the younger players in the group and is someone that is learning all the time,” he said.
“This World Cup is going to benefit him hugely and I think he will come back from South Africa a much better player.
“Going through the experience of being at a World Cup at his age is something that will stay with him for a long time.
“At his age he will hopefully get to go to a lot more World Cups and this experience is going to be one that he can take into those.
“He’s such a committed player and one that will always give you everything on the field and, as a coach that is huge.”
After their World Cup opener against Sri Lanka in Cape Town, England face the West Indies, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa, India and Bangladesh – all in the space of nine days.
And head coach Hunter believes that, with the youthful enthusiasm of players like Millard in the team, England can go all the way in South Africa.
“James’ energy levels are phenomenal and we need that because we have a wide range of ages in the squad,” he added.
“As a coach you want players that are desperate to play because that pushes everyone on to the next level.
“And James is one of those players that will do everything he possibly can to get himself into the team.
“With that kind of attitude, he is someone that will have a long playing career for England and hopefully he’ll have a World Cup win under his belt to take him forward.”
* 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