England’s Physical Disability squad have struck the perfect balance between helping others and helping themselves during the ongoing Coronavirus lockdown, explains Yorkshire’s Liam Thomas.
The effervescent wicketkeeper, also a first-team regular with Bradford League Division One side Gomersal, and his national team-mates are undertaking a 10-day charity challenge in aid of the Lord’s Taverners.
Starting last Monday, the aim was to run or walk 2.6 miles for 10 consecutive days, and they have already more than doubled their initial £1,000 target. In fact, they are ahead on both tallies.
“We started last Monday, and we’re doing ok,” said Thomas, a right lower limb amputee who debuted for England aged 16 and has been an international for the past 10 years.
“We started it as 2.6 miles a day, but we’re going over that. I think we did 44 miles on Monday between us and 50 Tuesday for example.
“We’ll do it for 10 days initially and see how many we get to.
“We wanted to do something together as a team to inspire us and have something to focus on in terms of fitness.
“Ultimately, we want to be raising as much money as possible for the Lord’s Taverners because they do some great work in helping people with disabilities access cricket.
“But it’s also about making sure we’re ready to go fitness wise when we get the go ahead to play again.”
The squad’s monetary total topped the £2,000 mark on Friday.
“I was a little bit nervous at the start of the week, thinking, ‘Are we going to get anyone donating?’ But it’s been fantastic. It certainly pushes you on when you see that total going up and up,” said Thomas, who admits long distance running has taken the players out of their comfort zone.
“A lot of what we usually do is built around sprint work.
“We’d usually only run 30 or 40 metres – short, sharp stuff. So what we’re doing is actually quite difficult.
“Myself, I’m a lower right limb amputee, so when I’m hitting the road it has an effect on my body.”
Thomas hails from Cleckheaton, on the outskirts of Bradford.
Born with an underdeveloped right side of his body – no leg below his knee and he also had to have an operation on his hand – Thomas debuted for England in 2011.
In October 2016, he shot to fame whilst fielding in the deep in a T20 clash against Pakistan in Dubai. As he dived to stop the ball, his prosthetic leg came off.
However, prior to re-attaching it, he completed the fielding and ended up being an Internet sensation.
“Everyone always says to me, ‘Oh, how did you do that?’” he recalled. “But there is a moment, and it felt like forever, where I’ve run around to the ball, toppled over and my leg’s come off, and I’m there thinking ‘Ball, leg, ball, leg – which one first?’
“It felt like a minute or so when I was doing that, and I made the decision to get the ball first and my leg later.
“But I put my leg on every time I wake up, and I’ve done that for as long as I can remember. It’s so natural to me, so it wasn’t an issue or anything like that.
“When I was developing in the womb, my right side didn’t develop properly, so I also had to have an operation on my hand.
“The next thing I know, I’m four-years-old and running around playing football.”
And that’s where his other passion comes in and brings with it some nerves given his football team are top of the Championship and were on course for promotion pre-Coronavirus.
If a restart is not possible, he is obviously hoping a points per game method decides the season.
“I’m a Leeds fan for my sins,” he chuckled. “Hopefully common sense will prevail.”