The Indian Blind cricket team has fared extremely well in the International circuit, winning the Blind cricket World Cup. However, despite the multiple achievements of the team, they aren’t well recognised within their own country, something that hurts John David, the Secretary of Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI).
John David wants the Indian national team to play a blindfold match against the Indian blind cricket team, one, to promote the blind team amongst the masses and two, to experience the difficult circumstances in which the blind cricketers play the game.
Despite having won an ODI World Cup and two T-20 World Cups, the blind cricket team is still not recognised by the BCCI, something that needs to change very quickly.
David recalls a demo match that the Indian national team had played against the blind team.
“They (the national cricket team) played a demo match where the Indian team was blindfold. Ravindra Jadeja was kneeling down and searching for the ball and Rohit mocked giving a tap on the head, you can’t even trace the ball. People will know about the level of difficulty that goes in playing cricket without eyesight. Our team got to play a bit against the mainstream Indian team in 2015. Ravi Shastri bowled and commented, If I shut my eyes for a moment, I don’t know where I am. It’s not as easy as it appears.” said David.
CABI President, Mahantesh was confident of getting official status from the BCCI.
“Last week we met BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and he was positive and the COA head Vinod Rai has also noted the progress we have made. We are feeling happy with the progress and in touch to move things forward. Soon the BCCI will announce support and cash rewards. With their support we can take things forward.” Mahantesh said.
Mahantesh then shed some light on the problems faced by the blind cricketers, identifying the absence of ‘leaves’ as one of the most pressing issues for the team(as players from the blind team do not come under the ‘sports quota’).
“They have problem of leaves. For example, we were together during the World Cup for 50 days. Many have to manage jobs, family and concentrate on cricket also. There was a partially blind cricketer who played for us in the 2014 World Cup who was a daily labourer – working as construction worker. He was sitting in a corner and as we inquired told us about problems he had at home. All the players contributed and helped.
“Now if someone is earning 400 rupees a day, he loses 20000 for giving up daily job and though blind also has to take care of the house. If we come under sports quota, it’s easy to get leaves.” Mahantesh said.
David fondly spoke about how the blind cricketers draw inspiration from the Indian national team.
“Some like Sachin, some Virat. They give names to each other as well. There is a boy Venkatesh we have, who boys call Virat. Our keeper is called Dhoni. He is very quick. If you give him a chance he will not lose an opportunity. So he is a very popular wicket keeper. We also have a Sehwag who says I only want to hit. They love the Indian cricket team.” David concluded