India's Blind Cricket Team: An inspiration
There is something happening on the International Cricket front that everyone should sit up and notice. The Indian Team for Blind Cricket will be off to Pakistan on 4th Jan 2018 to participate in the 5th ODI World Cup Series to be played in Pakistan and Dubai from 7th Jan to 21st Jan 2018. The Team is defending its title in this format which it won in the Championship held in 2014, in South Africa.
I had the privilege of spending some time with the Indian Team during the month long coaching camp they had at the Gopalan Sports Complex in Avalahalli in Bangalore. I interviewed each one of the players and prepared their profiles for Samarthanam and CABI (Cricket Association for the Blind in India) which is the sports body for Blind Cricket in India. Interviewing these players was a revelation for me.
Here I was in the midst of a group of visually impaired persons who had come into the international arena against all odds. They were all certified blind and categorized as BI, B2, or B3 players in accordance with the guidelines given by the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSF).
As I went through the interviews I realized that some were born blind and had irreversible blindness in one or both. Some had become blind due to an injury sustained in their childhood. .Most of them come from villages and lack of facilities for the right medical interventions in time might be a reason for them to slip into irreversible states of blindness. Lack of knowledge of hygienic practices could be another reason.
One of the boys said that when he sustained an injury in his eye during play, he just rubbed the eye and went on playing. It was only later that his family came to know about it, but it was too late. Another player said that four of the five siblings in his family were born blind. Each person had his own unique story to tell as to how they got enveloped in blindness.
The stories were very touching indeed!. But not one of them spoke with rancor or bitterness. They had all accepted their blindness as reality and had moved on in their lives with grit and determination to become what they are now. Truly commendable!
The captain of the team is Ajay Kumar Reddy from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. He is a B2 player. He has a degee in Arts and works as an Assistant Manager in State Bank of India. He and Prakash Jayaramiah form a formidable combination and have often steered the team to victory in difficult situations.
Prakash is a scorer, and has several high scores to his credit. D. Venkateshwara Rao has six centuries to his credit, out of which four are against Pakistan. In each of these four he scored an exact 126 runs. Coincidence? A Don Bradman in the making.
Each of them has his own style, batting and bowling. Each of them has records to his credit, whether at the National Level or the International, and have been trained to peak at the right time. And all of them say with one voice ,"We are proud to be playing for the country."
Ajay has a good team with him for this World Cup, with a strong WILL to win. And WIN they will!