For a Cricket crazy nation like India, the game of cricket is divine. It is also one of the most popular recreational games played by both the young and the old. Despite the fan-following and the admiration to the sport, the support given to Cricket for the Blind is negligible. Surprisingly for many of the persons with disabilities and especially to those who are visually-impaired, the game is the most preferred spare-time activity. Cricket Association for the Blind in India has over 150 players from across various Indian states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, etc.
Having won four Cricket for the Blind World Cups, the Indian team is yet to gain recognition. In fact, when the team won the 5th ODI World Cup 2018, only the final match between India and Pakistan was telecasted by Doordarshan Sports channel. This is rather a very disappointing turn of events for the most popular sport in India. These national heroes, also known as the ‘other men in blue’ were honored by Hon President, Shri Ram Nath Kovind; Hon Vice President, Shri Venkaiah, and Hon Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. But still, there is a long way to go for this sport for the blind to gain recognition and footage on par with the national Indian Cricket Team of the BCCI.
As a cricketer myself, the game has helped me and my childhood friend Late. Shri Nagesh established Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled and after more than two decades, the organization supports blind cricket in association with Cricket Association for the Blind in India CABI.
CABI in association with Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled organizes state, zonal, national, and international level cricket tournaments for the blind. The state-level cricket tournaments’ objective is the selection of the best state teams to participate in the zonal tournaments (north, east, west, and south). Zonal matches are also organized by Samarthanam and CABI where they identify the local partners, including the private and the government bodies. This partnership or affiliation is beneficial to the tournament as it garners support to the team. Finally, the winners of the zonal matches play the league matches which determines the team selection.
Public level promotion of cricket for the blind is crucial for the sport to thrive. As a sports enthusiasts when you extend your support to the other men in blue, it will go a long way in professionalizing the sports for the blind. The organization is regularly in touch with the BCCI hoping to form a synergy that will gain recognition to the players on par with the Indian Team.