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The Blind Cricket League is coming to your city soon. Reema Kumari Jadeja tells us what’s in store

Sheer instinct Shekar Naik opening for the 2002 Blind Cricket World Cup
Sheer instinct Shekar Naik opening for the 2002 Blind Cricket World Cup
Photo: Score Foundation

IMAGINE YOURSELF blindfolded and asked to play a game of cricket with a stick and tin can. A true lover of the game will remain undeterred and play in any possible way with the available resources. The visually impaired have been doing just that and playing cricket with the simplest of tools – long before the era of third umpires. Now, the blind are revving up for the Indian Blind Cricket League (IBCL) in 2010 – the equivalent of an IPL exclusively for the visually impaired.

Variations of India’s de facto national sport have been played for years by the visually impaired in blind schools, open land, gullies and alleys. From rudimentary tin cans to the white rattling standard ball in national tournaments, the blind cricket movement in India has grown in strength and magnitude, comprising over 150 teams across the country. And in the coming months, the Association for Cricket for the Blind in India (ACBI) is set to take the game to newer heights.

The ACBI was set up in 1996 by the visionary George Abraham and hosted the first two Blind Cricket World Cups. Its mission is to popularise blind cricket, using it to propogate the message of outstanding ability, allowing the visually impaired to break free from the shackles of debilitating physical challenges. Accomplishments on the field can banish feelings of social isolation and exclusion often felt by the blind, replacing them with a strong sense of self-worth that transcends the boundaries of the pitch into everyday life.

Blind cricket is no less exhilarating than mainstream cricket. The game is fast-paced and acutely instinctive – players rely solely on audio cues of the tin ball and the stick.

The blind game is fast and instinctive, relying on audio cues of the tin ball and the stick

In November 2009, 112 of India’s best players will be selected through talent scouting camps in 16 cities: Delhi, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Agartala, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Indore, Jodhpur and Pune. Eight teams will be selected with 14 cricketers in each squad. Each team will comprise of cricketers from all regional zones. Effective communication through audio signals is vital for the blind format of the game. The chosen teams will provide cricketers for the Indian squad in the Blind Cricket World Cup 2011.

Come February 2010, the chosen teams will battle it out in the inaugural IBCL, a 20-over format tournament in New Delhi. The week-long event is going to change the face of blind cricket and open a whole new realm of possibilities for a sport that mainstream bodies have undeservedly overlooked. Cricket connoisseurs will be there – will you?

Jadeja is with Score Foundation, Delhi

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