Bowled Over by Blind Cricket

As the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup gets underway in England, we ask what's specifically on offer for cricket-lovers with a visual impairment.

Around a year ago Marc Gulwell, of Gloucester Growlers VI Cricket team, wrote a blog for Henshaws about the fun and sense of achievement he gets from Blind Sport, and from winning the Blind Cricket League.

As the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup gets underway in England, some of you might be looking beyond the sighted game and wondering how does cricket for the visually impaired work, and what is going on in the sport at the moment?

I had planned to go along to a match at my local club and watch the Cheshire Cobras in action. But I learned the hard way that as in all cricket the weather is often the most important player. The match was postponed until September!

Fortunately Blind Cricket England and Wales have a great guide to the sport so I was able to get some feel for a few of of the similarities and differences.

And then a call with veteran cricketer and club secretary of Lancashire Lions, Sheraz Chohan, helped me fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge.

Basically the ball is a lot bigger – Size 3, and has ball bearings inside so it can be heard (for the first time this season a bell has also been added to make it clearer to locate), the wicket is larger, and there are a few rule changes from regular cricket, such as the ball being able to bounce twice to a totally blind player.

Bowler bowling a Size 3 ball

Sheraz, who is partially-sighted and has been playing since 2010, told me: “It’s quite a tactical game. The B1s as important if not more so than the partially sighted.

“We play all around the country. This year we meet Kent, Surrey, London Metros, Somerset, Yorkshire, Sussex and Surrey.

“It’s a massive confidence boost for those who are not used to travelling. We all travel together on a minibus, and we’ve a strong social element. It’s about competing but also a sense of belonging. We’re all friends, like a family.”

“From a spectator’s point of view its interesting too. We had a Roses match the day of the England v Pakistan match recently and found people were more interested in Lancashire vs Yorkshire!”

If you’re interested in finding out more about participating in Blind Cricket you can find links to your local clubs here.

And remember that you will be able to listen to Test Match Special coverage of the ICC World Cup on BBC Sport.

Or, if cricket isn’t your thing, Henshaws runs lots of sport, exercise and lifestyle groups and clubs. Why not find out what’s available in your area here.

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