George honoured a Lord's with disability award

PAIGNTON cricketer Stephen George has been honoured with one of the top awards in the sport for his services to the national Deaf team.

George, who is 29, collected the ECB’s disability cricketer of the year award during a ceremony at Lord’s on Monday night.

The awards recognise excellence in the game and George was one of only four winners nationwide.

He collected his award at the same ceremony as Ian Bell (male cricketer), Charlotte Edwards (lady cricketer) and Will Rhodes, who won the U19 award. George is pictured at Lord's outide the Long Room with his award.

George won his award after playing a starring role in the England Deaf Squad’s 6-0 series whitewash of South Africa in Pretoria last autumn. It was his fourth overseas tour following previous ones to Australia (2004), the World Cup India (2005) and Australia again in 2011.

England initially picked George as a seam bowler the job he has done in Paignton’s 1st XI since 2002.

He started keeping wicket in emergency when another player was injured – and did a good enough job to hold on to the gloves.

Only last month he played for England Deaf XI against a Devon League XI at Paignton as the keeper.

George has played cricket at Paignton since the age of eight and the club are justly proud of his achievements.

“Steve came through our successful junior section, and has been a permanent member of our 1st XI and the England Deaf XI for years,” said Paignton chairman and former team-mate Mark Griffiths.

“He is an extremely competitive, talented, and consistent player and always plays within the Spirit of Cricket.

“Stephen has never let his disability prevent his progress, nor let it become an issue for him or the team.

“He is a fantastic role model for our younger players, and we’d like to congratulate him on winning this extremely prestigious award. Nobody deserves it more than him.”

George was recommended to the England selectors by former Exmouth and Devon medium pacer Mark Woodman, who has been proufoundly deaf since birth

Woodman played in two Ashes series with George – away in 2004 and home four years later – and remembers him as a talented cricketer unlucky not to go a bit further in the game.”

I am pleased to hear Stephen has won this very special award,” said Woodman, who played 91 times for Devon between 1987-1998.

“He is a valued member of the England Deaf team because, as well as being a swing bowler, he is a useful wicket keeper, lower-order batsman and a brilliant fielder with a quick arm.

“I saw Stephen for the first time in the nineties at Paignton and recommended him to the England selectors.

“Stephen was unlucky not to be picked for Devon Minor Counties team because they had a lot of quality bowlers at that time.”

George is the second England Deaf player to receive the award after captain Umesh Valjee two years ago.

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