Morgan set for Australian debut

Photo: Tom Parry

Heyfield cricketer Justin Morgan is on his way to Brisbane this week to represent Australia.

The wicketkeeper-batsman will be playing in the International Cricket Inclusion Series as part of the Australian National Deaf Squad.

The selection came as something of a surprise to Morgan, who only joined the Victorian Deaf Squad a few months ago.

“It happened pretty quick… I’m still pinching myself,” Morgan told the Gippsland Times.

The opportunity to play for Victoria first emerged in December last year, when Morgan saw an advertisement for tryouts on Facebook.

From there, Morgan sent an application to Cricket Victoria, who invited him to join training sessions at the Junction Oval soon after.

The invitation proved somewhat daunting for Morgan.

“I’ve never really been around the deaf community much, so I was a bit nervous,” Morgan said.

“But I was like, ‘well, training at the Junction – not many people get to do that,’ so I went down (to Melbourne) and then ended up getting picked in the Victorian Squad.”

Following his selection in the Victorian team, Morgan participated in a practice match at Casey Fields, where he was tapped by the coach of Australia’s Deaf team, Jason Mathers to play for the National side.

Next came a rigorous training weekend in Brisbane, which Morgan described as “a bit of a shock”.

“We did… four hours (of training) on the Friday, and then six hours on the Saturday, and then a couple of hours in the morning on the Sunday before we flew back home,” Morgan said.

“That’s more than I would have done in a month at Heyfield!”

Despite the shock of the gruelling drills, Morgan’s efforts made an impression on selectors, picking him for the 14-man squad to play against England.

His team will be one of three Australian sides competing in the Inclusion Series, the other two being the Intellectual Disability team and Blind team, both playing their respective England squads.

For Morgan, the experience will be just like playing for Heyfield Cricket Club, but with one catch – he’s not allowed to use his hearing aids, as per Series rules.

Morgan is fully verbal and his hearing aids allow him to listen with little to no hindrance, meaning that he hasn’t needed to communicate with sign-language like many in the deaf community.

Even so, he doesn’t believe this will present a problem when playing in Brisbane.

“Setting fields I think would be challenging, but I’m wicketkeeper so it doesn’t really affect me,” he said.

“All the basic skills of cricket you don’t need hearing for.”

The International Cricket Inclusion Series officially begins tomorrow, and will consist of five Twenty20 and three one-day matches over the next fortnight.