Kent blind cricket pioneer Mark Bond is planning a bid to return to international cricket and wants to remain a part of the sport’s growing momentum. 

The Bromley-born batsman, the 61st player to appear for England’s Visually Impaired team, wore his country’s colours with immense pride at the 2014 World Cup in South Africa and in Ashes series. 

But alongside four colleagues who helped regain the Blind Ashes down under in 2016, Bond failed to make the squad for the 2017 World Cup in India and has been out of the picture ever since. 

Now competing for London Metro in domestic cricket, the 27-year-old has never lost his love of the game and wants to win back his place in Ross Hunter’s international outfit. 

“The support the ECB have given disability cricket over the last ten years has taken it onto another level,” said Bond.

“The professionalism, the respect and importance it’s been given has provided opportunities for people like me who believed cricket was never something we could do. 

“It’s allowed us to go all over the world and represent our country which was always an amazing experience.

“I picked up an injury last year but I definitely want to get back into the England side. I had to listen to the stories of my mates that went to India and it sounded great.

“In terms of fitness, the game has moved on a lot since I started. The demands on conditioning have changed and are exactly where they should be, so that’s what I’ll need to work on.” 

A domestic league and cup double beckons for Metro, who face Sussex in their national final later this month.

Bond combines his on-field exploits with charitable work for Lord’s Taverners, taking responsibility for their disability programmes across the UK. 

He was a key presence at the national festival of Wicketz, a Taverners project using cricket as a tool for change, running across three unforgettable days at Repton School from August 6-8.

Youngsters from aged 8 to 16 were put through their paces by former England and Nottinghamshire coach Peter Moores and ex-England bowler Kabir Ali.

Bond hailed the work of the scheme, as well as underlining the importance of positive role models for kids hoping to break into cricket from outside its mainstream of participants.

“Wicketz is a great scheme and it was a superb couple of days at Repton,” he said.

“We had loads of kids playing cricket ad doing lots of other things that will make them better cricketers but most importantly better people.

“Role models like Peter and Kabir are very important – in disability cricket we’re providing a massive amount of them to inspire young people with disabilities.

“I met England blind captain Matt Dean at 17 when I didn’t think I could get a job, or get on a bus, but this guy was doing amazing stuff in cricket and had what I thought was a normal person’s life.”

Derbyshire all-rounder Luis Reece – also on hand to share his expertise with bat and ball – was enthused by the energy of the young participants.

“Everyone should have the opportunity the game we love and this programme offers that to kids who might not otherwise get the chance,” said the former Lancashire ace.

“They are talented kids who all came down with a smile on their face and asked me lots of questions, which is very rewarding to see.”

Using cricket as a tool for change, Wicketz is aimed at hard-to-reach youngsters aged 8-16 within areas of high deprivation across the UK, by engaging young people who live in communities where there are few opportunities to play the game regularly.