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Home > City Resources > Sports and Recreation > Cricket for the blind - a sport of awesome agility

  CRICKET FOR THE BLIND - A SPORT OF AWESOME AGILITY  

DGP HJ  Dora presenting the trophy to AP teamWhen the last wicket of Karnataka team fell, the ground burst into joy suddenly. The innocent faces celebrated the victory by embracing, shaking hands and clapping. They exuded a feeling that they have conquered the whole world! This was the scene at the Gymkhana grounds on the event of All India under-18 Cricket Tournment for the blind. Though the players were visually handicapped, the enthusiasm shown by these cricketers was remarkable.

The All India under-18 cricket tournament for the blind was the first of its kind iPlaying cricket joyfullyn India and five teams, Dehradun, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, participated in it. The tournament was conducted in round Robin league system and each team played the other team 4 times each. In the finals, batting first, AP team scored 258 runs from 30 overs where as Karnataka could score only 195 runs from 23 overs. Andhra Pradesh team might have won the tournament by beating Karnataka, but in real terms it was a victory for the players who displayed unmatched sportsman spirit by overcoming the disability. All India under-18 tournment held in Hyderabad was a preliminary event to the 2002 World Cup to be held in New Zealand.

Ready to batThe first world cup for the blind, which was held in New Delhi in 1998, saw real recognition for this form of cricket. The same year the Association of Cricket for the Blind in India (ACBI) was instituted to administer and promote the sport among the blind in the country. Today there are many stars who are just beginning to excel in cricket. Some of them are Shailender, the only century hero in the tournment, from Dehradun and Shekhar Nayak from Karnataka. Andhra Pradesh too has produced some star cricketers and they are gearing up for the next world cup. Mr P. Chandrashekhar, coach of the AP cricket team for the blind, speaking to hyderabad-best.com says, "There are 40-50 good players from Andhra Pradesh and around 7 players are sure to get selected for the all India team. P Sridhar, Nanaji, the captain of the AP under-18 team and Ramu, all hailing from Devnar Foundation for the Blind are some of the cricketers who could be an asset to Indian cricket in future."

Exuding confidence while playingThere are immense benefits to the visually impaired from the game of cricket. It makes them strong and removes the inferior feeling that always bothers them. "Cricket prepares the visually impaired to face the challenges in life. The game helps in rehabilitation of the mind, building confidence and fostering competitive spirit," says Chandra Shekhar. It also helps in developing leadership qualities, discipline and will power, essential elements to win the game of life.

Cricket for the blind is played using a hard plastic ball which is white in colour. The ball is filled with tiny ball bearings that rattle when the ball moves. The wickets are made of metal and are screwed together to ensure they are aligned. The bowler shouts when he is about to deliver the ball and the batsman replies when he is ready. The bowling is always under arm. Apart from a few rules which have been adapted for the blind, all rules of regular cricket rules apply to this game.

Commentary in styleBut there are some problems that have to be overcome to make cricket for the blind popular. Lack of good grounds, facilities, encouragement and sponsorships are some of them. "We are not provided proper grounds to play and are often forced to play in hockey and football grounds," says Gulab Singh, coach of the Delhi cricket team, which participated in the tournament. This is not the only problem upsetting cricket for the blind, there are some other problems like lack of specialist umpires to officiate the game. "There are certain rules which are quite different in this form of cricket and special umpires who have knowledge of rules and regulations of cricket for the blind should be employed," says Gulab Singh.
-MAR Fareed

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