Zac Sheehan, 24, has one goal in life: to play for the Ashes in England.
- Zac Sheehan has been selected for the Australian Blind Cricket squad.
- The 24-year-old from Bendigo aims to play for the Ashes in England.
- Sheehan also plays high-level AFL and wants to encourage other vision-impaired people to take up a team sport.
Now, the Bendigo-based bowler is a step closer after being selected for the Australian Blind Cricket squad.
Sheehan is no stranger to high-level sport, having previously played in the Australia team five years ago. The side lost to England in the Ashes series in Adelaide in 2016.
The sports-loving young man is also a premiership footballer after playing for the Hawthorn Football Club in the Victorian Blind Football League in 2019.
"Absolute beauty to be back in it.
"Always had the dream to go to England, to represent Central Victoria, my family, Australia. It'd be an absolute honour," said Sheehan.
The pandemic has put any overseas competition plans on hold, but Sheehan is determined to play in Australia's biggest cricket rivalry eventually.
"I'm hoping to be in the squad for the next 10-15 years if my body can let me go that far.
"I'm actually coming back from an Achilles tendinitis at the moment," he said.
The game is played with a plastic, larger than a traditional cricket ball and filled with ball bearings for audible cues.
In the field, players classified as totally blind must also wear blackout glasses, and verbal signals play an important role in fielding, with teammates directing each other to the ball.
'Just have a crack'
Sheehan was diagnosed with retinal dystrophy at five months old, and his sight deteriorated until the age of eight. He can now only see limited shapes and colours.
"I think in life that there are people out there worse off than me. It's just my sight that I don't have. I can still get around and function pretty easy," he said.
The self-confessed sports fanatic is now an ambassador for Vision Australia to encourage young people living with vision loss to get active.
"Just have a crack. If you don't enjoy it, you don't enjoy it. At least you've had a go.
"I think if they don't know what they're doing, they're hesitant and scared to ask.
"But it's just about opening up to people and letting them know what you can and can't do.
"You don't know what you're capable of doing unless you try it," he said.
Sheehan said he wanted people to know it was also a boost to mental health.
"They'll find they're able to have a connection with local communities and make new mates.
Sheehan speaks from experience, as he is also the assistant coach at the Newbridge Football Club.
"I've been brought up with a sports family. It's pretty hard not to play sport.
"I've always been a footy fanatic.
"It just sort of takes that high-level stress away. I can put cricket to the back of my mind.
Sheehan has ramped up his training schedule and credits his personal trainer Liam Sarkezi for helping him boost his fitness before an Australian Institute of Sport training camp in May.
"He's just a legend. The camaraderie we have, and we talk a bit of rubbish like blokes do.
"We just get through the 45 minutes, and if you're not sore at the end, you haven't done enough, I reckon," said Sheehan.
The 22-year-old personal trainer said he had also learnt a lot from Sheehan about training someone who lives with a disability.
"He's a good communicator and lets me know things, like hand always on the shoulder when we move between equipment and exercises.
"He inspires me because he's always on time, he always gives training 10o per cent and always puts a smile on my face.
"Overall, he's a good bloke to talk to. The banter is unreal, and I guess if you've got a good connection with your client, anything is possible," Mr Sarkezi said.
Despite his talents as a hard-hitting middle-order batsman, Sheehan said his focus was now on his pace-bowling.
"I'm trying to get funding for a one-on-one coach. Being in country Victoria, it's hard to get to Melbourne. My natural ability is to be a bowler.
"The Pakistan and Indian teams — they're the best in the world. Some train two to three times a day.
"We normally play them in the World Cup, but I've never had the experience of playing them.
"It's my next goal to play after playing the Ashes in England."