From being played with a tin can and a stick to audio balls and metal stumps, blind cricket has come a long way. The enthusiasm of the visually impaired for India’s favourite game and the determination of the administrators to create a level playing field for the disadvantaged have ensured that the game is now played professionally at the national and international level.
Governed by the World Blind Cricket Council, the rules have been tweaked to accommodate challenges faced by the Visually Impaired:
The white ball is made of hard plastic and filled with small ball bearings that rattle when the ball is in motion.
The wickets are made of metal so they make a distinct sound when hit.
Boundaries are set at a distance of 45-55 yards from the pitch.
Of the playing eleven, a team must have a maximum of four partially sighted players and three partially blind players, and a minimum of four totally blind players.
Bowling is underarm and it is mandatory for the ball to bounce once before the middle of the pitch.
The bowler at the time of delivery feels the wicket at his end to get the direction of the pitch and then gives the batsman an audio signal. In response, the batsman returns an audio signal and the ball is then delivered.
Not only does this format give the blind a much deserved opportunity to play the game and boost their self confidence, disabled cricketers are exposed to other facets of the sport that they might have not encountered on account of their disability- discipline, teamwork, fitness, strategic planning and the spirit of competition! This naturally translates into all aspects of living, leading to a productive life of dignity and pride.