Ausnew Home Care | After years of honing his craft, Chinchilla's own Nick Budden has cracked Australia's deaf cricket team

After years of honing his craft, Chinchilla's own Nick Budden has cracked Australia's deaf cricket team

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If you look in the cricket nets or fields in Toowoomba, you'll likely find Nick Budden working hard at his craft, but it has never been easy.

He is one of the one in 1,000 people born with hearing loss, though that hasn't stopped him achieving the dream of a lifetime.

Budden drives two hours twice a week from his hometown Chinchilla, population just under 7,000, and now home to their latest Australian cricket representative.

When asked about his selection in the Australian deaf team, he tells a story of years of dedication.

"Everything, it means everything [to me]," Budden said.

"Everything I worked for, from when I was younger to now.

"Mum and my family have done a lot of things to get me where I am now. It's all a blur."

While the summer of cricket has well and truly passed, the Ashes rivalry continues as Australia's National Disability Squads take on England in a nine-day competition held in Brisbane.

The blind, deaf and intellectual disability teams are playing in their first series in four years due to COVID interruptions.

To be part of the deaf side, players must have at least 55 decibels of hearing loss and cannot play with hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Two men hug while wearing Australia cricket gear.
Budden achieved a lifelong dream of representing Australia. (Supplied: Cricket Australia)

That's a reality Budden has experienced since birth and he's faced up to it with the same determination he used to face the English bowling attack. 

His brother Matt watched on with pride, like he has for years, as Nick took to the field in the green and gold for the first time.

"We are extremely proud, he's done it tough for a long time," Matt said.

"It's done his confidence a world of good and his body language has changed, he's a very, very happy person at the moment in conjunction with his achievements.

"He has really thrown himself into that and been committed, he's been training really hard, which has changed his attitude towards life as well, which is great."

While each team has their challenges, the unique format of blind cricket makes for an entertaining match.

The team includes a mix of players from three different categories of vision impairment: B1, which is totally blind; B2, which has 2 to 5 per cent vision; and B3, which has up to 10 per cent.

YOUTUBEBlind cricket giving the vision-impaired a new outlook

Captain of the Australian blind team, Matthew McCarthy, said it's a much quicker pace.

"The ball has bearings in it, so it obviously rattles and it helps the fielders hear the ball," McCarthy said. 

"Most batsmen won't see the ball coming down the pitch until it's probably about two metres away, so that sound really helps them track it where it is.

"The ball is bowled underarm and doesn't bounce as much, but it's probably a lot more fast-paced than the normal side of cricket."

"It's just it's a great spectator sport to watch."

Two men shaking hands with people in the background clapping.
The Ashes rivalry has continued through the International Inclusion Series with deaf, blind and intellectual disability teams competing. (Supplied: Cricket Australia)

The Australian Blind Cricket Council was formed in 1953 in conjunction with the first Australian blind cricket championships, played in Melbourne.

McCarthy said the inclusivity of the game has come a long way.

"The way the world and Australia have now become more inclusive and there's more sports for people with disabilities to play and represent their country is just fantastic," McCarthy said. 

"So no matter what your disability is, you can represent your country."

As for the intellectual disability side, a three-part eligibility criteria including intellectual functioning, behaviour and age must be met to be selected.

While the series is yet to finish for Budden, his determination has him thinking about the next step.

"One thing I would love to do is go to England," Budden said.

"I just need to play well, score runs, take catches, there's a few things I need to work on, I know that, but I'm slowly getting there.

"I'm hoping I'm a role model for younger guys, I'm 32 so I'm trying to help out these young fellas and just enjoy my cricket."

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