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Boundary Club

Ian Martin visits Sussex Cricket

22 Mar 2024

Head of Disability Cricket at the ECB, Ian Martin visited Sussex Cricket via The Boundary Club to talk about his journey and life experiences which has led to him where he is today. 

Ian was an avid cricketer at a young age but as time passes the dream of becoming a professional sportsman was not to be and Ian felt it was time to choose a new career path. He decided to join the Royal Navy at the age of 16. Ian’s family had a lot of Naval heritage and after joining, he was deployed all over the world and involved in the Gulf War. 6 months after, Ian’s life was slowly turned upside down after a muscle injury that was just not healing ended up turning into a diagnosis of a muscular neurone disease. 

Ian was declared not fit for the Navy and unable to play sports to what he wanted to do. 24 years old with no job and with his mobility slowing going away, Ian felt awful and broken until an advertisement in a local newspaper changed his life. 

Ian saw the ad looking for Disabled cricketers, unsure about joining due his perception of disability he finally took the plunge and responded. He joined the Welsh Disability team which brought his love for sport back and started him on the fantastic journey which has helped him to where he is today. 

With a realisation of no funding and structure to disability cricket, Ian started volunteering for the ECB. With a consultancy role going at the ECB for disability cricket, He realised that he did not meet the job criteria to apply for the role, leading him to taking another life changing decision. Leaving his secure job in the financial sector and taking a large pay cut, he became a community cricket coach. This change eventually led him to his role today by gaining the necessary experience needed. 

Ian has overseen disability cricket for around 17 years now, overseeing huge changes such as the increase in active disabled players. Less than 2,000 players when he started has now risen to over 72,000 and still growing fast nationwide. The disability Premiership final is now being shown on Sky Sports and the national side are now touring abroad to places such as India and South Africa which Sussex star Alfie Pyle was included in recently. 

With a better infrastructure and clear vision Ian has helped push disability cricket to new heights and many more future plans are on their way to push disability cricket into the mainstream and give the players the platform they all deserve. 

Ian kindly auctioned off a signed bat by England and West Indies players which raised £400 for the Sussex Cricket Foundation. 

After Ian’s talk he joined a panel hosted by Sam Keir, joined by Matt Smith, CEO of Webtrends Optimize who proudly sponsor our Sussex Disability teams. Gary Wallis-Tayler, Director of Community Cricket at the Sussex Cricket Foundation and England/Sussex D40 Star, Alfie Pyle. 

The panel discussed the sponsorships benefits and the growing exposure for sponsors, the ever-growing accessibility for new starters and regular cricketers, future and Alfie’s experiences and journey from Super 1’s to an England International. 

We would like to thank Ian for taking time to visit, speak about his inspiring journey and all his exceptional hard work helping grow and develop disability cricket. 

 

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