England Deaf star Cameron Sweeney and all-rounder Matt Bateman led the way by winning two and three awards respectively at Yorkshire’s Disability Awards dinner at Headingley earlier this evening.
Three teams, including the county’s National D40 Quest League champions, were honoured, with 2023 hailed as “a great year” for Yorkshire Cricket.
That is the view of Owen Jervis, Yorkshire’s D40 Quest League team manager.
He said: “I think it’s been a great year for Yorkshire Disability cricket across the board, highlighted by our success in winning the National Quest League.
“Winning that was a bit of a surprise in many ways given it was our first year in the top division, but it was a fair result given the effort the lads put in.
“We’re growing all the time, and there’s more opportunities being created all the time throughout our structure for anyone who wants to play Disability cricket.
“Disability cricket is growing all the time, with the Disability Premier League a big thing in increasing the profile with games on Sky and such.
“We want to make this a game for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be about winning titles. That’s something Donna Staniland (Yorkshire Cricket Board head of operations) and Shakil Manir (Yorkshire Cricket Board disability manager), who leads this, are very clear on.
“We need to provide that pathway.
But it’s not just the players who have shone, we’ve introduced some younger coaches across the various teams and they’ve done some fantastic work.”
Wicketkeeper-batter Sweeney, a former football goalkeeper with Sunderland, had been selected – alongside county colleagues James O’Conner and Henry Wainman – for England’s squad to take part in the Deaf World Cup in Qatar next month.
Unfortunately, that tournament has been cancelled last-minute.
They will continue to train with the England squad alongside Luke Riley and Cameron Cooper, who have been in and around that group as well.
Sweeney won both the D40 Quest team’s batting award and the coaches player of the season. His haul of 205 runs at 68.33 included a best of 97 for a side expertly captained by Gordon Laidlaw.
Jervis described Sweeney’s performances with both bat and gloves as “outstanding”.
The bowling award went to Bateman, who enjoyed a memorable first season at Yorkshire. His nine wickets at 17.33 apiece, including a best of 5-23, meant he was the second leading wicket-taker in the entire Quest League.
The all-rounder, who added 241 runs in eight games, was also honoured with the players’ player of the season.
Jervis said: “Matt was a great contributor with bat and ball throughout the season. He also stood in as captain when needed, including representing Yorkshire as skipper against Lords Taverners at Tring in August.”
Bateman’s third award came as he also won the bowling award for Yorkshire’s D40 Pursuit team – effectively the county’s second team.
We introduced a second team in 2023 to play in the Pursuit Division to provide a game for players who wouldn’t get many opportunities in the Quest team,” said Jervis.
“The aim was to help players improve and provide a pathway to our other teams.”
In that team, which finished fourth in the North Division with one win from six matches, Bateman claimed five wickets at 10.4 apiece.
The batting award went to Bateman’s fellow debutant, Kyle Clayton, who contributed 156 runs at an average of 39.
Jervis said: “After moving over from Lancashire, Kyle has contributed with the bat and also provided support to the captain and coaches.”
Jacob Grimes was named as the coaches player of the season for the Pursuit team. He claimed four wickets, with Jervis saying: “Jacob improves year on year, and we expect to see him move into Quest XI soon.”
Captain Owen Morris won the players’ player of the season.
The all-rounder contributed 127 runs at an average of 31.75 in five matches, including a best of 75 not out, and took a best of 4-24 in his six-wicket return.
“This was Owen’s first assignment as captain,” said Jervis. “He led the way with the bat, and has been nominated by his peers. All of this before his 18th Birthday!
“He has improved his game and showed maturity beyond his years.
“Owen also featured in Disability Premier League, with highlights on Sky Sports.”
Last but not least, Yorkshire’s S9 softball team were honoured. They won three of their six matches in their North Division, finishing fourth.
The bowler of the season award went to Alex Fynn, who claimed four wickets at 15.75 apiece.
“Alex had a fantastic campaign in his debut season with us,” said Jervis.
The S9 batter of the season went to captain Alistair Domville, whose 144 in four matches at 57 included a best of 49 not out.
Jervis described him as an “inspirational leader and contributor with the bat”.
Guy Mason won the coaches player of the season.
Jervis enthused: “Guy is a team player, he steps in as wicketkeeper and stands down from batting when we have too many players to give others opportunities.
“He is a calming influence and an experienced head in the field, a tidy bowler and middle order batter.”
The most improved player award went to Archie Wilson.
Jervis said: “Archie has got tougher and braver in the field, he’s now become a more difficult wicket to take and a bowler who’s difficult to score off.
“He’s also grown in confidence when in amongst the group.”
And finally, an S9 merit award went to Luke Messenger.
Jervis added: “A hand injury kept Luke out for the vast majority of the season, but he dealt with that disappointment by coming to support at games home and away and also helping with warm-ups before game.
“He was super helpful, supportive and has an incredible attitude.
“Not playing was really tough for him, and he struggled with watching because he’s so enthusiastic and committed.”
Jervis, meanwhile, paid tribute to the 13 Yorkshire players who featured in this summer’s ECB Disability Premier League. Of that number, Kyle Clayton, Rob Hewitt, Owen Morris and Henry Wainman all played in the final televised live on Sky Sports.