CHICHESTER visually-impaired cricketer James Millard admitted he had achieved a lifelong aim after making his international debut at the Blind World Cup in South Africa.
The 19-year-old was part of a 17-strong England team for the World Cup and, while they fell at the semi-final stage to eventual runners up Pakistan – Millard still had plenty to smile about.
He was given the nod for his first cap in their group game against Pakistan and then took 3-60 against Bangladesh, whose matches were deemed friendlies due to their late arrival.
And, with his parents watching on in South Africa as he made his debut, Millard admitted it had been a moment to savour – and is determined to ensure he enjoys a fruitful England career.
“The tournament was a great experience, especially to be away with such a great bunch of guys. We are very close and supported each other,” said Millard, who attends Chichester College.
“It was a great tournament to make my debut in and a great feeling when I did. I was nervous but also more excited about it.
“The honour of making my first England appearance was something I have always wanted to do and it was a very proud moment.
“Both my mum and dad were out there to watch. I feel like I did OK. Obviously it was a shame to go out at the semi-finals and we were all disappointed but there were a lot of positives.”
At 19 Millard is one of the younger members of the England squad, although he is already thinking longer term when it comes to his international career.
England’s next challenge will come next summer when they play host to India, who beat Pakistan in the World Cup final, and Millard believes they can give them a stiff challenge.
“We learnt a lot as players and as a team,” he added. “The amount of development over the last 18 months, it bodes well for the future and trying to become one of the best teams in the world.
“I’m really excited to be a part of that. We will spend the next five months looking at how we can develop even more before taking on India.”
* The England Blind team’s next tournament will be in May 2015, taking on defending champions India in England. If you would like more information about Blind Cricket or to find your nearest club please contact www.bcew.co.uk