Callum Flynn: From battling cancer to batting for England

The 16-year-old cricketer fought off bone cancer and loves his role with disability team. He's also Britain's 'kindest kid'. He talks to Jack Gaughan

The inner strength that those with a disability draw upon has long inspired the sporting public. The likes of the late charity fund-raiser Jane Tomlinson engage audiences, help ing to tackle preconceptions, all the while raising money to help others in a similar position.

The 16-year-old cricketer Callum Flynn, who opened the batting for the England Physical Disability team as they undertook a maiden tour of Dubai to face Pakistan earlier this month, is the latest of these athletes.

Formerly a budding all-rounder, Flynn might have been forgiven for shelving dreams of playing international cricket after being told on his 14th birthday he had to fight against bone cancer. But after undergoing a life-saving operation and two years of intensive physiotherapy, he now plays with a titanium knee.

Flynn's mature attitude towards the game was reflected in his response to losing 2-0 in the Twenty20s and 2-1 in the one-day international series. "I wanted to score more – I didn't perform as well as I could have. I got four starts out of five but didn't manage to push on," he told The Independent. "I don't want to blame it on anything. I just got myself out by playing too many silly shots. It was probably inexperience. The knowledge will come over time, hopefully.

"After being told about the cancer, I had five months of chemotherapy and an operation. Since then I've been recovering and trying to get stronger. The best way to approach it is not to think about it and do what you want to do and live your life again."

Flynn, who ended a successful debut season for Lancashire with England call-ups, does a whole lot more with that life than play cricket. He raised more than £50,000 for the Bone Cancer Research Trust last year, and was voted "Britain's kindest kid" last year for his efforts outside of the game, something he puts down to anyone other than himself. "My family and friends have been really supportive. They've been there throughout," he said.

Before being announced as the winner, Flynn made his way down to London to meet the Prime Minister, David Cameron, whom he described as "really polite and interested in me", later quipping "guess he has to be, though." The cheek to his personality is refreshing, but Flynn's cricketing brain is obvious. "I'm the youngest player at Lancashire. The older players help me along and are constantly talking me through games as guidance," he said. "They have the experience and I have youth so I think we complement each other nicely. It is good being young – I have it all ahead of me."

What the opener may see in the coming years is disability cricket continuing to thrive, and he is keen to see more competitive games.

"We're hoping to play Pakistan again. The West Indies have a team and Australia have lots of different disability teams. There could be World Cups in the future," Flynn said. "I'd love to play in one – all it needs is four or five teams." Now Flynn is flourishing at Myerscough College, near Preston, where he is enrolled on a cricket studies course.

Richard Dearden, the cricket development manager at the college, believes that Callum is the whole package – so much so that he will be playing for the first team come the summer. "He is an example to us all. He just gets on with things and you will never hear a complaint from him. He trains with the fully able lads and that is a challenge he has willingly accepted," Dearden said.

In turn, Flynn is hugely grateful for the help the college provides: "It has been great. They helped me with my fitness and preparing for the tour. They are a great bunch of lads."

Looking back on what was a disappointing tour in the middle, Flynn described three weeks that have opened his eyes to international sport, and being away from home. "The tour was massive, I just want to do it again. It was a great laugh with the lads, a wonderful experience," he said.

Even though the team were frustrated by their showing during the five games, it was certainly not for lack of effort and determination shown by their courageous opener, who will have an impressive career indeed if his cricket measures up to his courage and conviction.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Recruitment Genius: HR Consultant

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An HR Consultant is required to join thi...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable