Friday, October 13, 2006

Blind Cricket 

I have an egg on my leg after playing blind cricket. Not until I came home did I remember that backyard and schoolyard cricket are played with tennis balls, and that regular cricket players wear pads. Our balls are made of hard plastic and have holes so that you can hear the bells inside. Two balls are on field at once. The bowler's end is like Christmas.

A friend met me at the Maylands station and showed me how to get to the oval. The oval is very green and soft and, I'm told, you can smell this is true. The oval is also a dog exercise area, so you have to hope you don't tread in any dog poo. One of our group brought his daughter and their dog along.

I'd imagined blind cricket to involve super-cricketers who could catch jingling balls and launch them at the wickets while other super-cricketers skidded into an invisible crease. I already knew that the bowler would bowl underarm, and this disappointed me until I took the bat. Then I felt grateful that the space in which I could detect the ball (I have to look away to see it and track it - in my temporal island, I guess) wasn't too large.

For the first session of the year, I discovered a group of people much like me, people who enjoy playing cricket and for whom it's more practical to have the ball stay closer to the ground, or to have other players give their position and state their readiness for play.

For example, when totally blind players bowl, there's a routine of necessary name calling.

Bowler: Anne!
Wickie: Jim!
Bowler: Anne!
Wickie: Jim!
Bowler: Deanne!
Batter: Jim!
Bowler: Play!

When I batted, this routine was followed by the sound of me not hitting the ball and lots of advice. I'm not very good at following verbal instructions, especially instructions about how to position my hody, so mostly I said 'okay, oh great, I'll try that' and missed. My first over as a bowler embarrassed me no end but on the second go I could do it well enough that I feel confident I'll improve. I forget to count the balls, so I think I had a few longer overs. I've never had to know which is leg stump and which is off stump till now, but in blind cricket the wickie gives feedback to the bowlers, so they know where the ball went.

Everyone knows everyone else's cricketing capacity. When a player who doesn't hit hard comes in, fielders will move in as close as a couple of metres from the crease. So strange to me, to see a man bent forward, listening intently, and only positioned a couple of metres from where someone is going to whack a ball anywhere he can.

I'll definitely rock up next week. I like the players and I like that I have a reason to run around without the possibility of running into someone. At first I thought, this isn't cricket, this is crazy, I can't see the ball to hit it... the ball comes to me and I can't catch it... people say 'good fielding' when I'm fielding less capably than I did in primary school.

I'm right, this isn't cricket, this is blind cricket. And I can play.


I love that story Dee, especially the bit about skidding into invisible creases... It sounds like a great way to play the game, and also a way to make the game more interesting that the ACB should take on board. If i have to sit through another test match I think I'll blindfold myself and see if it works.

Great that you're getting into it.

Heya Matt,

Glad you liked it! I'm definitely enjoying it. Do you think you could convince the ACB to use a ball with a bell in it should you try the blindfold out? Last summer 20/20 matches... this summer audible cricket. Keep the seagulls on their toes. :-) Hope all's well with you!

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