Page’s pride in World Cup challenge

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Chris Stone

Havant relish quest for double joy

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Matt Page made a big impact at the Blind World Cup but could not lead England to glory.

The visually impaired cricketer from Gosport was part of a 17-strong squad that qualified for the final four of the competition with victories over hosts South Africa and Australia.

However, a fairy-tale finale was not to be as England and Page suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Pakistan in the semi-final.

Pakistan went on to lose to India in the final.

But Page, who has been playing for eight years, believes England are getting closer to the two superpowers from the sub-continent.

‘I’m disappointed we didn’t win it,’ said the 24-year-old.

‘But I thought overall we had a good tour and played well.

‘I think there were good performances all round and a lot of the younger players really stepped up to the mark.

‘We could have reacted a bit quicker in some of the games and been a little stronger – and there were far too many unnecessary run outs which cost us.

‘But everyone contributed and now there is the right support system in place to carry on improving and get more players coming through.

‘There is more coverage now of the game which will help. I’d never heard of the game until I was 16, so now the media coverage can only be a positive thing.

‘But the big challenge is getting people under the age of 16 playing the game as that’s what will really grow the sport.

‘India and Pakistan have got a much bigger pool of talent to choose from and the more players we get can playing better we will get, definitely.’

Page’s trip to South Africa marked his first one-day World Cup after being involved in the Twenty20 equivalent in 2012 and the Ashes series against Australia.

He scored his first competitive 50 against Pakistan in the group stage and then hit centuries against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – and doesn’t want to stop there.

‘It was a great experience and I hadn’t really been selected to bat in previous tours, so to get my first 50 against Pakistan was great,’ added the former Bay House School student.

‘I’ll have to see how it goes now. I want to keep playing and if I keep getting selected I consider it an honour to keep on representing my country.

‘But I’ll take each game as it comes and keep doing my best.’

n 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 the sport or to find your nearest club please contact bcew.co.uk

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