We took time to speak with Jon Tucker who has been with Somerset Disabled Cricket Club for 25 years. Jon never thought he would end up playing in a disability team, nor did he ever think he would represent England.
I played local league cricket since I was 15 year old boy for Stoke-sub-Hamdon CC, starting with friendlies and finishing in the Shrubbery Cricket League.
I was a modest number 6 who favoured cow corner as well as being a good agile fielder who also enjoyed the social aspect of the game more than the game itself!
Little did I realise that ten years later, a near fatal motor bike accident resulted in me losing my right leg above the knee. This moment changed my life forever and this is how I started my Somerset Disabled cricket journey.
After surviving my motor bike accident, I thought that my sporting life was over with the hope of ever playing football and cricket, all but gone.
However, one of my local cricketing foes happened to be a GP, Dr Bulley. The Doc had received a letter from a chap called Julian Bellew asking if any patients with disabilities would be interested in joining the newly formed Somerset Disabled Cricket Club. Could a disability cricket club really be for me?
I arrived at the very first training session at the indoor school in Taunton, having only been on my new prosthetic limb for a matter of weeks. I put down my trusty M&H bat and gently leaned it against the padded indoor walls of the indoor school. I Introduced myself to the coach, Dan Hodges (Dan sadly passed away but was a true inspiration at the Club and someone who became a great friend) who took no time in discussing ways of improving my game! It was then we were interrupted by the sound of a young lad with down syndrome who was smashing my precious M&H bat against the centre wall. I must admit I nearly upped and left there and then! Dan spoke with me about the members at the club and suggested that I go over and show this young boy what he should be doing and why. It was from that single moment I was hooked.
We started off with ten players and we all had different disabilities ranging from wheelchair users to cerebral palsy. Losing my right leg had stopped me being able to dance down the wicket, so I became much more defensively sound and learnt not to give my wicket away so cheaply . Some would say that losing my leg had made me a better batsman!!
I also managed to return to play local league cricket with the help of a runner and enjoyed many seasons playing for Stoke-sub-Hamdon CC until sadly, the club folded.
As a County Disability team, we started travelling around the country to play in BACD (British Association of Cricketers with Disabilities) competitions at places like Coventry and Telford. It soon became very apparent that as a team we had some very good players. Although, even more importantly we all enjoyed each other’s company.
After a couple of months of playing for the Disability team, I was approached by Graham Furber who asked if I was interested in representing England against Wales in Newport. Me, a cow corner slogger from Stoke-Sub—Hamdon! Although this was all before the dawn of the superior ECB disabled athletes that now tour places like Dubai. However, back then this was the pinnacle of our sport and I was playing for England!
Over the years of representing England, I have played at many grounds like Lords, The Oval, Rose Bowl & Old Trafford, which is not a bad feat for a slogger from Somerset.
During the years, the Disabled County Team has gone from strength to strength winning the Disabled County Championship four times and runners up on two different occasions. Our last full season before COVID-19 in 2019, we narrowly missed out on the final losing to Derbyshire. However, I’m confident his new team is going places under Nick Deans control.
I was very fortunate enough to Captain the team during our most successful period and am extremely proud of our success and performances. I also was very privileged to open the Long Room at Somerset CCC with Marcus Trescothick and Stephanie Williams, both respective Mens & Ladies Captains at the time. Somerset CCC have always been a fantastic advocate of disability cricket and have supported the club from the very start.
One of my happiest and proudest achievements was the emergence of the Somerset Dragons, which I helped establish alongside Julian Bellew. The Dragons was a separate team from the County first team and was created to support younger adults with more complex needs who just wanted to go out and play this beautiful game.
Cricket offered me so much motivation when I was recovering from my accident and provided me with the determination to walk again during my rehab. 25 years later, I am now more slightly cultured than a slogger and somewhat less agile, but I still enjoy the camaraderie and competitiveness that disabled cricket has given me. Most of all, the club is like an extended family and I have made many friends over the years from parents, careers, coaches and players. This has kept me wanting to give back something to a sport that has done so much for me.
Finally, I think I owe a big THANKS to the lad who banged my cricket bat against the wall, I owe you so, so much.
1996-2021 25 Years
If you have been inspired by Jon’s story and have seen how Somerset Disabled Cricket Club brings together a wide range of people who share a common interest in cricket, you too might be able to play for England! The club is unique, and you will be surprised, just like Jon. If you want to find out more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org