National Cricket Tournament for the Blind is in its last leg at Shivaji Park
Mumbai: The batsman effortlessly wraps up the last over of the match with a sixer, bringing the score to 381 for no loss.
Amidst cheers from teammates and spectators, he walks up to his partner, bumps his fist, and they walk away with their heads held high. The scene is typical of any cricket match, but with one difference: the players are visually challenged.
The match was played between Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra at the 24th National Cricket Tournament for the Blind organised by the Cricket Association for the Blind of Maharashtra. The tournament began earlier this month and is in its concluding run. It is being held at Shivaji Park from Monday to Saturday. The other match played on Monday was between West Bengal and Haryana.
Before every ball, the batsman would shout ‘here! here!’, and the bowler would throw the ball with perfect judgement. The batsman would then hit it with equal perfection and ease.
“All the players are sharp at locating sources of the sound,” said Dr. Bhavika Parekh, the official physiotherapist partner for the team of visually-impaired cricketers playing at an international level.
“There are three categories of players: B1, B2 and B3. The B1 category comprises players who cannot see at all, B2 has those who are partially blind, and the B3 includes those who can see up to six-eight metres,” she said.
The players can make out the direction of the ball by its sound as it spins in the air. The ball for the blind is larger than the regular cricket ball.
Ajay Kumar Reddy, captain of the winning team from Andhra Pradesh, had no airs and graces as he spoke about his journey. “I had an accident at the age of four which damaged my left eye. As I grew older, I started having vision problems in my right eye as well. I used to sit on the last bench as I could not see the board if I sat close to it, and ultimately dropped out of school after Class VI.”
He continued his studies after his parents enrolled him in a school for the visually impaired in Narasaraopet, Andhra Pradesh, and it was in this school that he started playing cricket with his fellow students.
“I learned a lot from cricket, including discipline, teamwork, and communication. I always wanted to pursue cricket as a sport,” said Mr. Reddy.