About a Boyd: The face of a new cricket community – an article by Adam Burnett at Cricket.com.au.
Meet Boyd Duffield, one of Australia’s leading cricketers with an intellectual disability, who is helping forge a path in the sport for those with autism and their families.
In his loungeroom, Boyd continues to putt. He sinks one after another, the binary action of see ball, hit ball suited to the workings of his brain. It is the same in cricket. A bowler originally, he is now an allrounder who is set to open the batting for the National Squad for Cricketers with an Intellectual Disability in next month’s INAS Global Games in Brisbane.
On Australia’s last tour of the UK in 2017, Boyd surprised his coach and Cricket Australia support staff with an unbeaten half-century. Where others struggled against some fast bowling, Boyd was able to lock his focus in on just the ball. For him, there was no real element of fear. His mind was uncluttered. See ball, hit ball.
“I’m not worried about fast bowling,” he says.
Lonergan identified Boyd’s skill-set during that England campaign, where the Western Australian presented as a simple solution to a simple problem.
“We started him off down the order, but then we were looking at what we needed – someone who could just play straight, and make good contact,” Lonergan explains. “So we took a very practical approach, and Boyd takes a very practical approach, and he just simply says, ‘When they bowl it, I just hit it’ and that worked well for all of us.
“He’s got an amazing confidence about his ability. Sometimes I feel like I’m just getting in the way as coach, and I should just let him sort out what needs to be done (laughs). He’s a great lad.”
The confidence, it appears, is not unfounded. The unbeaten half-century Boyd made against England on that tour, Lonergan believes, was something quite special.
“A benefit of the autism he has is an amazing ability to focus on bat on ball,” he says. “That fifty was one of the best knocks I’ve ever seen anyone play, period – regardless of mainstream or anything.
“He hit the middle of the bat every single time.”
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