NZC Match Centre
Blind cricket is an adapted form of able bodied cricket and is played by individuals who are blind or have some form of vision impairment. This form of cricket is currently played in 8 nations around the world including India, Pakistan, England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka and has it’s own World Cup which is played every four years.
While this form of cricket has somewhat declined in players over the past five years in New Zealand that has started to change as recent as last year with the introduction of the shorter 20/20 version of the game and annual tournaments.
As players have very limited sight or no sight at all the game has been adapted and is sound focussed rather then visual. While the objectives are the same as able bodied cricket we tend to focus more on the shortened 20/20 version of the game as a preference to the longer but more traditional version. The umpires control a lot of the game with voice commands and there are modifications to the ball, stumps and very slightly to the pitch.
All players must have an official sight grading certificate as approved by the World Blind cricket Council (WBCC) which must be completed by an authorised optometrist or ophthalmologist. As there are so many different eye conditions there are three main categories for which anyone wishing to play blind cricket will need to be fitted into depending on their vision loss:
B1 – Totally Blind B2 – Partially Blind B3 – Partially Sighted
When playing internationally teams must have 11 players and must contain a minimum of 4 B1 players and a maximum of 4 B3 players. Generally teams are made up of 4 B1’s, 3 B2’s and 4 B3’s.
This is the main adaptation enabling this game to be played. There are currently several types of balls used around the world for blind cricket ranging from a size 5 soccer ball with bells inside to various cricket sized balls which have varying abilities to make noise when bowled. The ball that is currently used in New Zealand is the ball from the 2006 Blind Cricket World Cup in Pakistan. It is made from hard plastic and is filled with several washers/bearings that move around inside it to create a noise. It is generally white in colour to allow those with some vision to pick up the contrast against the pitch. It is the closest thing to an actual cricket ball available in both size and weight. It has a similar sound to a maraca (musical instrument) when moving.
All deliveries in Blind cricket are delivered underarm with an action similar to ten pin bowling. This is done for two main reasons. The first is to make sure the ball hits the pitch enabling sound and the second is to try and eliminate full tosses/beamers for obvious safety reasons. Speeds of 100 kph can be reached – think about that for a second and imagine trying to select an appropriate cricket shot with your eyes shut at that speed!
The batter is orientated with the crease line and their choice of either side of the wicket or directly in front of the wicket, this is done with help from either the fielding team or the umpire. The batter is then informed by the umpire if the delivery is either over, around or in front of the wicket and weather it will be a left or right handed delivery. The batsman will also be informed of how many paces the bowler will be delivering from. Once this information has been given the bowler will ask if the batsman is ready to play. The batsman will reply with a simple “yes” or “no” to start or delay play. Once a “yes” is given from the batsman a call from the wicket keeper may be given to help orientate the bowler if the bowler is a B1 or B2. The bowler will then run in and must call play just before the ball is released. The ball must bounce once before the painted half way line otherwise it is a no ball. Front foot no balls and wides are the same as with able bodied cricket.
The batsman may or may not require a runner depending on their sight category, but all B1 players must have a runner. It is done exactly the same as able bodied cricket. When the batsman has taken guard and has been informed of delivery details etc and has said “yes” the concentration begins. Once the ball is delivered it is tracked down the pitch using the players hearing and any sight they may have. An appropriate cricket shot is then played by the batsman based on the sound coming from the ball. Speed, angle and distance are quickly established by the batsman’s hearing. The game needs to be seen in real time to get the full understanding of the skill required to bat. It is not uncommon for batsman to bat through an innings and the current New Zealand record for the highest score in an International innings is 149 held by James Dunn (B2), current NZ captain which was obtained at the 1998 World Cup in India.
An ordinary cricket bat is used when playing, many players prefer the slightly lighter bats as the ball is not as heavy as an ordinary cricket ball and fast hand-ear coordination is required. Standard batting gloves are also used when batting and keeping and most players tend not to wear traditional pads but rather wear shin pads similar to soccer guards. Knee pads similar to volleyball are also used on occasion by the B1 players as batting from one knee tends to be the preference. A box is also highly recommended.
These are also adapted. The wickets are generally made from steel and are fixed to a large flat base. This is done so that the stumps give off a distinct audible sound when hit by the plastic ball. The main purpose of the large base is to balance the top heavy stumps.
The pitch is the same as a standard pitch with the addition being a centre line across the middle of the pitch, this is the no ball line and all deliveries must bounce once either side of this line. Both grass and artificial pitches are used during the season. Artificial pitches are easier to bat and bowl on as the ball holds a truer line than on an uneven grass surface. Boundaries are also shorter than a standard field as the ball does not travel as far as a cricket ball when hit.
Players are set in their fielding positions as per able bodied cricket and remain in these positions once play is called. As the ball is delivered and makes its way down the pitch the fielders are listening for one of several distinctive sounds:
The first is the sound of just the ball and if nothing else is heard the delivery was probably missed by the batsman or was a wide.
The second is the sound of the ball hitting the metal stumps. This is a high pitched sound, similar to a wind chime being struck.
The third sound is a dull thud and this normally means the batsman has been struck by the ball. This is often a good time to appeal for an LBW!
The fourth is the sound of willow on hard plastic, within a fraction of a second players will have worked out the type of shot played, the angle, the speed and the direction of travel of the ball. When running to field the ball fielders can work out the balls speed as the rattle in the ball changes pitch when the ball begins to slow. If the ball stops and has not reached the boundary the fielder generally drops to the ground and sweeps with their arms to locate the ball. The more experienced players do this task with ease.
Communication amongst the fielders is essential to avoid collisions which thankfully are rare. The keeper or bowler generally call out to orientate the throw from the field. Contrary to popular belief run outs and catches are very common in blind cricket.
They have the same role as umpire’s in able bodied cricket with an extra focus on loud voice commands. Their role is to communicate with all players as to bowling type and batting alignment before a ball is bowled. They also have to inform the players and scorers of the result after each ball. Without the umpires who are normally volunteers this fantastic sport would not exist.
Below is a list of contact information for Blind Cricket in New Zealand. If you have any questions or would like to get involved don’t hesitate to contact one of the people listed.