The sport of blind cricket is every bit as competitive as sighted cricket and next week will see a very closely fought contest between England and the West Indies at three Birmingham grounds.
In an international three-match series, the English national blind cricket team are taking on the West Indies in this inspirational sport at King Edwards School in Edgbaston on 3rd August, Moseley Cricket Club on the 4th and Harborne Cricket Club on the 5th.
Blind cricket has been played in England for over 40 years. The rules state that all of the players are registered as blind or partially sighted and at least four are totally blind. The ball is filled with ball bearings to allow players to hear it and the stumps are brightly coloured but otherwise most of the rules are the same as standard cricket.
The West Indies were the last of the major test-playing nations to start playing blind cricket, a sport that was introduced to the Caribbean five years ago by Andy Sellins from the London Community Cricket Association and Tim Guttridge from the World Blind Cricket Council. Their coaching efforts were supported by England players of the time together with leading blindness charity Sightsavers International which is sponsoring the Windies to travel to Birmingham for the matches.
Sightsavers sees the sport as equipping players with independence and confidence as well as a means of challenging misconceptions about people with disabilities. Peter Ackland, director of overseas programmes said: “At Sightsavers we believe very strongly that blind cricket can be used to show the world that disability does not mean inability - people who are blind should enjoy equal rights and opportunities within society. Blind cricket is taken very seriously across Asia and the Caribbean and can be thrilling to watch.”
According to Miles Northwood, one of the English national blind cricket team’s key players: “The West Indies team are an exceedingly talented group of players with boundless hunger and determination. They play with flair and flamboyance, and with overwhelming enthusiasm and enjoyment. Whilst we hope to win the series, we must make sure that at no point do we take them lightly. There is nothing they would like more than to put one over on their previous coaches.”