By Graham Hardcastle, ECB Reporters Network
Yorkshire Disability star Henry Wainman channelled his inner Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff to help England’s Deaf team win the Ashes for the first time last month.
Wainman, who points to the legendary fellow all-rounder as his cricketing idol, was a standout performer as the England Deaf team played their part in a historic double Down Under, with the Learning Disability team also triumphing in Brisbane.
The 27-year-old opened the bowling and batting at stages and claimed 11 wickets in eight matches with his left-arm spinners and posted scores of 44 and 32 as part of a landslide 6-2 success across eight T20 and ODI fixtures.
Flintoff-esque, you might say!
“I always loved watching Freddie Flintoff when I was young,” he said. “I used to bowl seam back then.”
Wainman also displayed some of the cheeky chappie northern persona the ex-England all-rounder was famed for when conducting this interview via email.
He is the younger brother of fast bowler James, who played county cricket for both Yorkshire and Warwickshire: “I am better than him, haha,” he said with a winking emoji for good measure.
It was of no surprise to read of Wainman’s pride at helping England achieve success in Australia, him revealing how the camaraderie between the Deaf and Learning Disability teams helped drive the double success.
He pointed to an excellent two for 18 from 10 overs in the game which helped secure England Deaf team success, going 5-2 up, as his personal favourite moment on tour.
But he admitted to taking just as much pleasure from seeing Yorkshire LD duo Rob Hewitt and Alex Jervis contribute to their own resounding 7-1 series triumph.
Both sides played their series at the two-pitch Shaw Park venue in Brisbane, meaning respective victories could be savoured and the pressure ramped up on the beleaguered Aussies.
“When we had won a game, the LD side would applaud us,” said Wainman. “The Deaf side would then do the same back to them when they won.
“And we did feed off each other’s success. It felt good to bring home two Ashes trophies, and it was nice to celebrate with my county team-mates, Rob and Alex.”
Describing his feelings after taking that aforementioned crucial two-for, he said: “It was a big relief for me to bowl a tight spell in a big game.”
That relief will no doubt be shared by England fans up and down the land, who can finally celebrate Ashes success following winter disappointment for Joe Root and Heather Knight.
“It’s nice to finally take the Ashes trophy off the Aussies,” he continued.
“I really enjoyed the tour. It’s nice to be back involved with the England after missing out on a couple of years due to (an ankle) injury. I’m really proud to have played my part.”
Wainman’s ankle was tested with a heavy schedule of eight matches in nine days, though he got through via the help of acupuncture and heavy strapping.
“The medical team was superb,” said the man who also heaped praise on opening batter Josh Price following an excellent tour that was highlighted by a superbly paced 82 in the first of three ODIs to take the series score to 4-2 at the time.
“I thought every player had their moments over the tour, but the player who I loved watching was Josh with his bat.”
Wainman, whose discipline with the ball is his main strength, plays league cricket for Bardsey in the Airedale Wharfedale League and notes golf and football as other passions.
He has previously played football for Farsley DFC and hopes to do again next season, ankle dependent.
However, football can wait as there is still plenty of important cricket to play before then.
He will aim to help Yorkshire’s D40 team – the county’s main Disability team which features players with a range of impairments such as Jervis and Hewitt – gain promotion from the National League’s Division Two North. They are second in the table having won two games from two so far.
Wainman will then play in the ECB’s Disability Premier League through August and September, a competition showcasing the country’s best talent across a range of impairments.
Seven Yorkshire players are involved in a four-team tournament that culminates in a September 15 final.
Wainman, Hewitt and Jervis are all involved, as are Cameron Cooper, James O’Conner, Luke Riley and Liam Thomas.
“I will be playing for the Pirates in the DPL, and I really hope we can make the final,” he said.