Blind cricket: Perception determines position
Sight. A word that instills an image of scenery, of mountains, rivers, trees. Accurate, but an incomplete definition that fails to grasp the core of the word. Extend your imagination, envision foresight, insight and intuition. The driving forces behind innovators and game-changers, people who leave a mark upon their field, long after their exit.
Pioneers like Homer, Hellen Keller, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. Champions who never believed they were at a disadvantage, instead chose to “see” an opportunity where none thought it existed.
Choosing to forego their past, their nemesis, their negativity, to inspire millions to choose their state of mind.
Imagine the plight of Shekhar Naik, born blind and without hope. As a child of 7 years, with 60% of his vision restored in one eye, imagine the joy he felt when a new world opened up to him. His passion for sport led to an astonishing rise, which culminated with him being felicitated as a recipient of the Padma Shree, after having proved to be one of India’s finest ever blind cricket captains, twice leading the Indian team to glory at the T20 Blind Cricket World Cup 2012 and the Blind Cricket World Cup 2014. His faith in his ability, adapting to a dynamic and strategic sport like cricket, proves the existence of extra-sensory prowess.
To further the premise that being physically handicapped doesn’t signal the death of a dream is the stunning story of Ravindra Jain. Proclaimed blind at birth, he began reciting Jain mantras at temples, despite being unable to read music.
Years of sincere dedication and stellar application of musical techniques led to a Padma Shree, and him being immortalized in Indian culture, with contributions to hit films like Kranthi and Balidaan. He is most fondly remembered for the music behind the film “Ram Teri Ganga Maili” for which he bagged the Filmfare Award for The Best Music Director. An inspiration for an entire generation of musicians, Jain rose above his defect to master a craft, and the endurance he displayed is fascinating to all.
An article praising the differently-abled genius would be incomplete without an account of the greatest fielder on the cricket pitch, one of India’s greatest ever Test captains, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. “Tiger Pataudi” was a gifted cricketer, labelled as a batting prodigy at Winchester, who relied on his keen eyesight to banish the ball beyond the boundary. A promising career ahead of him, it seemed only a matter of time before he would garner applause all over the world. Unfortunately, an untimely car accident led to a shard of glass penetrating his right eye, which provoked permanent damage and double vision in one eye.
True to his identity as a royal, his ferocity never dimmed, and Tiger was already learning how to cope with his dubious vision within a few months, evident from his practice in the nets. He went on to achieve legendary status, representing India in 46 Test matches and scoring 2793 runs, also holding the world record for facing the most balls in a single Test match while batting at the No. 6 position. An inspirational figure, his adaptive skills portray a picture of single-minded focus and acceptance of any barrier to his goal.
Another example of negating the power of a difficult circumstance is the story of CA Ansar. Having lost his vision due to Glaucoma, in his post-graduation years, his remarkable desire to overcome the odds is truly inspirational. Gaining a license to practice alternative medicine, this motivational speaker studied Swedish Massage Therapy, Sujok Therapy, Yoga and Reflexology, adding a previously unknown dimension to healthcare and providing a different way of envisioning recovery. Immense dedication to his field led to him being awarded the prestigious “Social Justice Award” from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Kerala.
Born in 1958 in London, George Abraham lost his sight to meningitis at the age of 2, but anyone who ever knew him would confidently claim that George is anything but a quitter. He secured a high paying job in advertising after completing degrees in Mathematics and Operational Research over the course of his educational career. He eventually quit his job and dedicated his life to the upliftment of the visually impaired.
His love for cricket eventually resulted in the formation of the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI). He was also instrumental in the formation of the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC). His undeterred leadership was instrumental in making the inaugural Blind Cricket World Cup a huge success. In 2007, George was chosen as one of the Limca Book of Records ‘People of the Year’ for his contribution to Blind Cricket and his work with ‘Project Eyeway’.
After all, perceptions are merely thoughts that we choose to instil as beliefs, which go on to determine the quality of our existence. They get rooted deep within our core, the subconscious mind, wherein an extra layer of reinforced thought makes us believe ever so strongly in their validity.
Once an idea is implanted, it never leaves entirely. With great effort, it can be contorted into something advantageous, but never consumed wholly, or controlled. That’s why, on this momentous day, National Braille Day, we salute the heroes who managed to free themselves from the clutches of contempt, ascending to the highest of the highest peaks, liberating their talent and setting an example for all those out there who don’t possess adequate self-belief.