Steyning teenager defies expectations to play international cricket

Elliot Brown
Elliot Brown

A Steyning teenager who was never expected to walk or talk has been selected to play international cricket.

Elliot Brown, 17, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after he was born prematurely at 27 weeks, was selected for the England Physical Disability (PD) Lions cricket team.

His parents Miranda and Mike were told their son – who became a patient at Evelina London Children’s Hospital at the age of five – would never be able to attend mainstream education.

Miranda, 50, said: “Despite what doctors at our local hospital previously said, Elliot started talking when he was one and took his first steps at three, but he was still very unsteady on his feet, and had limited movement.

“Once he was at Evelina London, Dr Fairhurst and Dr Anne Wright helped him to gain physical strength and improve his walking. They were really great with Elliot and helped him to understand why he needed to wear his splint, which supported his joints and muscles. The care Elliot received at Evelina was brilliant.”

While Elliot’s physical strength and mobility continued to improve, he developed severe bladder problems, which is a complication of cerebral palsy.

In 2009, Elliot underwent successful bladder reconstruction surgery, which lasted eight hours at Evelina London allowing him to fully participate in sports for the first time.

He developed an interest in cricket at school, which led to him joining the Steyning Cricket Club’s youth team. In 2015 Elliot was picked to play for Sussex Cricket Club’s disability team, and after three years he joined Middlesex’s disability team before he was selected to play for the England PD Lions.

Elliot, who is preparing for his A-levels and would like to study sports law at university, said: “I first started playing cricket at school. I didn’t really take it seriously at first but my love for the game grew the more I played. Being able to play for my country has been an amazing experience and a real honour. My dream is to make the England Lions squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup, which will be extra special as it will be held in England and Wales.

“I don’t let my disability get in the way of pursuing my dreams and living my life to the full. Evelina London is an amazing place and I feel very grateful for the care I’ve received.”

Dr Fairhurst added: “It’s been amazing getting to know Elliot and his family, and witnessing his incredible journey. He has had to deal with many challenges in his life, but he has taken them all in his stride. I’m so pleased to hear that Elliot has been chosen to play for the England Lions cricket team and it’s very rewarding to know that the teams at Evelina London have helped him to achieve this. I wish him the best of luck in all of his endeavours.”