Starting playing club cricket at the age of 33 sounds daunting. For Andrew Edwards of Chirk CC it just felt like the right time.
“I had gained confidence from getting fitter at the gym and thought I’d give playing a go” he says. It’s decision that has enriched a life already full of the sport. Going back to the summer of 1991, aged 6, are where his first memories of following the sport come from. “My Mum put me in front of the television and the cricket happened to be on. Then next year I started playing in the garden. The summer of Waqar and Wasim v England. I always remember twirling my bat like Alec Stewart, who was my cricketing hero growing up.”

As the years have passed, Andrew has found watching test match cricket a great way as someone with autism to relax. “I can just switch off and have nothing else to think about apart from that match. I love how it reflects life, the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows.” Growing older he has been able to meet many of his cricketing heroes. “All apart from Wasim Akram and Steve Waugh.”

His experience of watching live at the ground has generally been a positive one but the increase in artificial noise has been challenging. “Crowd noise is fine but the sound of the artificial music is horrid. People will sensory issues don’t like it” This can easily be overlooked without taking time to consider all of those around us. The key for Andrew is for there to be just a little more consideration of this. “I’m happy to talk with any ground about catering better for people with autism”

Now though, his principle engagement with bat and ball is playing himself. “I started looking at scorecards and saw that Chirk 2nd XI weren’t always getting a full team and went from there.” As well as moments of individual achievement- winning the club ‘champagne moment’ of the season for a catch in his debut game- it is the belonging that makes it worthwhile. “I feel valued. Cricket is to be enjoyed and it also teaches me to be respectful and responsible.”

Anyone unsure about how they would welcome someone with autism into their club or team can be reassured by Andrew’s simple advice. “Be clear and keep communicating. I know my role and where I stand. I know what’s expected of me and they respect me for being me.”

Cricket really is for everyone and for Andrew it has been an anchor of solace right the way from his earliest taste of it. The diversity of the teams we play in or watch can be seen in so many ways. The reminder to consider the differences of each person is a simple message that bears repetition. By welcoming all we can help keep cricket special for everyone as we learn more about them.


You can find out more about Andrew’s life story and buy his book here

Mark Boyns