Physio helps England physical disability cricket team become world champions

A physiotherapist from Cardiff helped England players make history by becoming the first world champions in physical disability cricket.

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England player Daniel Reynaldo bowls against Bangladesh. Photos: England Cricket Board

Musculoskeletal physiotherapist Catherine Smaill supported the players during the inaugural international physical disability cricket tournament in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The 16-day event in September, which featured teams from England Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, was organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Ms Smaill, who works at Neath Port Talbot Hospital, part of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, told Frontline: ‘It was a huge success and England beat Pakistan in the final match to be crowned world champions.’

The 15 England cricketers had various disabilities, including below-the-knee amputations, arm amputations, a missing fibula and hand deformations.

‘We mainly focused on self-management and injury prevention,’ said Ms Smaill.

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Physiotherapist Catherine Smaill (right) with fellow staff

‘There were a few injuries along the way, mostly soft tissue injuries to the hands, but luckily no fractures or anything traumatic.

‘We also had a couple of hip-flexor strains and sore backs, so I did a lot of mobilisation and acupuncture to manage those. And I tried to prevent lacerations by putting Tubigrip bandages on their elbows so they didn’t graze their skin when they slid.’

Opportunities for physios

Ms Smaill has been involved with disability sport since 2013, initially working with the deaf cricket team for a year.

‘When I was younger I used to play for Scotland’s women’s team and after university I did a year of volunteering with the Welsh women’s cricket squad and that allowed me to see a lot of injuries and get lots of hands on experience,’ she said.

To find out more about disability cricket, email the England and Wales Cricket Board at disabilitycricket@ecb.co.uk

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by Robert Millett

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