JUSTIN Hollingsworth insists he is more than ready to play his part as England’s Visually Impaired Cricket team bid for Blind World Cup glory next month.
The 17-year-old of Leamington is part of a 17-man squad that will fly to South Africa to take on the best sides from around the globe, kicking things off with the test of Sri Lanka in Capetown on November 27.
Hollingsworth was a keen red-ball cricketer before retinitis pigmitosa began to deteriorate his vision.
However, the Warwickshire College student was able to pursue his passion with the visually impaired team and is determined to reach the top of the game.
Despite his tender age it is the teenager’s second World Cup and, after making the semi-finals of the T20 edition last time out, he is targeting at least a spot in the final this time around.
“I used to play traditional cricket at school and as the condition got worse I came into VI cricket.” Hollingsworth said.
“To still be able to play is incredible, it’s the chance to keep playing sport which is far better than sitting at home.
“It’s good to chat to people who are going through similar things and find out about how they deal with it and what they are doing in their lives.
“I want to keep playing for a long time and to be going to me second world cup at my age is a bit surreal.
“It’s nice to be going to South Africa. My mates think it’s pretty cool, they’re jealous of me having three weeks off and going out there.
“Winning is the main target and I would love to hit a couple of centuries on the way to that. To hit a century in one of the big games would be amazing.”
With the likes of India and Pakistan also heading to South Africa in search of the game’s top prize, Hollingsworth knows his side face tough competition.
But he says just having the opportunity to be a part of England’s Visually Impaired Cricket team is rewarding in itself and he has found inspiration from his teammates.
“I got involved through a charity and they basically said that Warwickshire visually impaired have a side and I got invited along and started training full time.” he added.
“One of the B1s who used to play for England said why don’t you come along to England training so I went along for a weekend and it went from there.
“Nathan Foy is a big inspiration to me because he’s totally blind and the way he deals with things is amazing.
“The atmosphere around the England set up is really relaxed and I’ve found that to be the best part of being involved.
“Everyone has a laugh but when we need to be we are fully focused and that’s how it is right now as we prepare.”
ECB is an inclusive organisation providing support and a pathway for disability cricket from grassroots to elite. Follow the England Visually Impaired Squad in South Africa at ecb.co.uk.
Leamington’s Justin Hollingsworth of England poses during the ECB Blind World Cup squad training camp in Great Malvern. Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images for ECB. (s)