Cricket for the visually impaired has changed the lives of people

Sport has always united, empowered and transformed the lives of people in ways words can’t explain. It has given a life of pride and dignity to those with disabilities and has changed the perception of society towards para sports and para athletes at large. 

In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, we spoke to Mr. John David, the secretary of Cricket Association of the Blind in India. Partially blind himself, John was captain of the Maharashtra blind cricket team in 1997 and has featured in many domestic tournaments. He spoke about the differences between cricket for visually impaired compared to mainstream cricket, the accomplishments of Indian team, the challenges they face and the impact of sport in the lives of visually impaired cricketers. 

How different is cricket for the visually impaired compared to the standard version? What are the modifications that are necessary to ensure it maintains a competitive level?

Visually impaired cricket is almost the same as regular mainstream cricket. The MCC Laws of Cricket have approved the modifications that have been made for blind cricket such as the ball being made of hard fibre plastic with ball bearings so that it makes sound. Visually impaired cricket has three categories, B1 is Blind 1 which is for the completely blind, B2 is for those who have clear vision upto 2 meters and B3 is for those who can see upto 6 meters. It’s a form of cricket that is played underarm with the use of verbal signals as the game is completely dependent on sound. The matches are very competitive and they go down to the wire and the cricketers play with a lot of attention and zeal. 

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What have been some of the accomplishments of the Indian national team for visually impaired cricketers in the last few years? 

I’m happy to share that India is the only country that has won all formats of International Championships. Since December 2012, India has won two T20 World Cups, two ODI World Cups, one Asia Cup and many Bilateral Series. 

With an upcoming Ranji trophy on 8th February which will determine the selection of cricketers that will feature in the National team, as a selector what do you look for in players apart from performance?

I believe that the future of Blind Cricket is very bright and with this tournament we are expecting a lot of new young talents which is a good sign for future competitions. 

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As the General Secretary of the Cricket Association of the Blind in India (CABI), what are the different challenges that you face? 

One of the major challenges that we face is getting quality grounds to play on. We have to struggle a lot to not just get grounds but also funding from sponsors to organize events. 

How do you think the impact of cricket enriches the lives of the visually impaired? 

I believe that it changes the life of these cricketers, especially those who play Internationally. They get cash rewards from the Central and State Government. Some of them have also been given jobs.

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How has the Blind Cricket ODI World Cup evolved over the years?

Blind Cricket started with the ODI format and the first World Cup was held in 1988. There are 40 overs instead of 50 and T20 started in 2012. 

How important is the support from public sector organizations and corporate houses to ensure CABI remains sustainable?

Support from such organizations is always a big help because it’ll help us do better than what we have done so far. 

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According to you, how important of a role does media play to change the attitude of the society with regards to visually impaired people to showcase their talent and help them live a life of dignity and pride? 

The media has done fantastic work so far, we have got a lot of publicity during our events but once it ends, nobody bothers about it.


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