Sports News

Durham’s Visually Impaired Cricket Team: Harshini Mehta charts the side’s stories and trip to Lord’s | Cricket News

Durham visually impaired cricket team enjoyed their time at Lourdes - and they were joined by up-and-coming journalist Harshini Mehta to discover their story

Durham visually impaired cricket team enjoyed their time at Lourdes – and they were joined by up-and-coming journalist Harshini Mehta to discover their story

It was an honor to be a part of the Sky VIP event hosted at The Lord’s with the London Spirit Team.

Not because of the place or the access or the talent we were able to play against. It was because of the competition award winners – the visually impaired Durham Cricket Team.

Sky VIP had a competition on their stage for a team to win the Lord’s Master Tournament, where the winners would be able to meet some players, participate in drill-based sessions with MCC coaches, and take a small tour of the Museum and Long Room.

The Durham players chose to wear the Northern Superchargers shirts when they played at the Home of Cricket

The Durham players chose to wear the Northern Superchargers shirts when they played at the Home of Cricket

Having been brought up by their former coach Luiz, the team were ecstatic when they heard the news that they would be able to come to home cricket for two days and also watch Spirit compete with the Welshfire.

When I saw them arrive at the boarding school cafe at 9am, their smiles and laughter were evident as they settled in for some breakfast. Sky has also brought in voice descriptors Jenny and Kenny to help enhance the team’s experiences and add more information where they can.

Their VIP bags were handed out which contained a water bottle, a hat, a Lord’s sports radio, some shower and body gifts, as well as their very own T-shirts.

As they bring their equipment to the nursery grounds, we catch up with four MCC coaches who have started warm-up exercises with the team. When I looked at the equipment purchased, it was nothing like any I had seen before. One of their former coaches, Chris, came to me to explain it to me.

The logs used are wider and longer and do not have removable bails for safety reasons

The logs used are wider and longer and do not have removable bails for safety reasons

“These are tree trunks – they are not like the sighted red ball cricket because they are wider and taller. They are also brightly colored (usually white or orange) and they don’t have removable bails because it is safer for us. They are independent too.”

He brought me two different cricket balls to look at.

“We usually play county cricket the size of a three-football that has a set amount of tiny carbon balls to produce the sound. It allows players who are completely blind to hear the noise and the hitting of the ball, judging by the distance.

“The size allows players with low vision to see the ball. It must be thrown over the arm, but this small hard ball is played in international cricket and must be thrown under the arm.”

Balls that are used in blind cricket

Balls that are used in blind cricket

I could tell that the MCC coaches were also adapting to the new way they had to train these players. They weren’t aware of the need to describe all of their moves, and my favorite was when someone announced that the team “puts their ankle behind their butt” in their workout routine!

I also noticed a mix of colored straps on the players’ wrists – black, red, purple, yellow and green. When I asked Louise about this, she said it was for coaches/referees purposes.

“We have B1 through B4 which are the different levels of low vision or total blindness. Black and purple are for the blind; red for partial vision loss; yellow for low partial vision loss and green for low vision. The midpoint allows coaches and referees to tell the difference in vision loss. for all players.

“However, some of their vision loss cannot be distinguished into scopes because some may also have tunnel vision, where they cannot see left/right.”

Durham Cricket Team for the Visually Impaired The Lourdes Experience

Durham Cricket Team for the Visually Impaired The Lourdes Experience

What are the rules in cricket for the visually impaired?

The rules for blind teams differ from sighted cricket. Blind players must wear shades and when hitting have a runner by their side rather than having to run a sprint themselves.

Verbal cues are used by referees and players; The thrower should shout “Play!” While they are releasing the ball, the ball must bounce at least twice if thrown to a completely blind batter (once if thrown to a poorly sighted batter) but must not be rolling.

Completely blind rackets can’t be taken out due to tripping and must be found twice before going out – they also get double spins if they hit the boundary. Blind players are allowed to catch the ball in the vault.

Louise, 36, and Chris, 39, were married and ran the team for three years until the coronavirus hit and Durham Cricket Board took over. They are still involved in coaching and coaching the team, along with Brian, 81.

The range of ages on the team is unusual, but when I watched them they all felt like one big family. Nathan Jameson, who plays professionally for England at the age of 29, believes in the same thing.

“They are not just my teammates; they are like my family. It’s not every day to be at Lourdes but to be here by their side is incredible. With everyone’s different levels of vision, it’s only natural that I get so close to them.”

MCC coaches had to adapt their training methods

MCC coaches had to adapt their training methods

When Nathan told me his story of how he was diagnosed, I was in disbelief. His whole life changed in just 24 hours.

“I used to drive and work. One day, I went to work as usual and couldn’t see screens. I couldn’t read or see anything on computers at all. I told my boss who sent me home and I went to see several doctors and specialists and Great Ormond Street came to see me.”

What they said was that it fell off as unexplained but the wires from my brain to my eyes just didn’t work anymore. “It was a complete life change. I went from driving to not being able to. I lost friends. But having these guys makes up for it.”

Louise also purchased the Vine Simulation package – a training package that enables others to understand the difficulties faced by people with vision problems – for us and the MCC coaches to try. It included 10 pairs of glasses that matched the different levels of vision loss that one of the trainers, Pecs, had tried.

I was amazed at how difficult it all was. They all wore goggles and played some cricket with the bowlers clapping (to rule the batsman) before handing the ball over to the coaches.

Contest winners get the most time in Lord’s

The team enjoyed two days at Lords and took part in the match between London Spirit and Welsh Fire

The team enjoyed two days at Lords and took part in the match between London Spirit and Welsh Fire

After an incredible lunch, the team received a tour of the museum where they were told the great story of Ashes and handed a miniature copy for display. They were also allowed to glimpse some of the great historical pieces such as the Ben Stokes racket and MS Donnie gloves.

After that, they made their way to the pavilion, where they stood in the long room and heard about the many masterpieces of the ancient land.

Lords was the only place cricketers had to walk through spectators onto the pitch and with over 3,000 paintings in their art collection, players were asked when they retired if they wanted to add their image.

With over 18,000 members, there was a 29-year waiting list, and the sheltered building was not allowed to have double glazing, meaning many windows were shattered in their time.

The last joy of the day for the team was playing some speed cricket with the London Spirit. They were lucky enough to meet the likes of Ravi Bobara, Megan Schott, Captain Charlie Dean, Daniel Bell Drummond, and Mason Crane.

Ravi Popara of London Spirit gets an understanding of what it's like to play cricket for the visually impaired

Ravi Popara of London Spirit gets an understanding of what it’s like to play cricket for the visually impaired

Spirit’s players put on their sim goggles and played some great matches with Durham. After taking many pictures and having so much fun, the visually impaired team was still telling me how terrifying they were, playing cricket at Lords Stadium.

Nathan spoke of wanting more exposure to their game as not many people – myself included – had known or heard of visually impaired cricket before. Well hopefully we can shed a special light on this amazing match for everyone.

Finally, after I asked Emma, ​​46, what she would say to those who would like to play cricket but feel they are at a disadvantage, she replied, “I’ll say try it! When I first started, I didn’t go anywhere on my own and lost a lot of work friends. I didn’t I don’t have much of a social life.

“When I called the cricket club, they said they trained half an hour away and I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it because I wasn’t expecting my mum to take me there and back.

“But right away, they really helped me with my travel confidence, because they asked me if I could get to a train station and then they met me there.

“There are always ways to overcome barriers, so just follow them! You’ll enjoy it, you’ll make friends, and it’s a great game to get into!”

Harshini Mehta is a rookie reporter for London Spirit in The Hundred, writing match reports and features. She is also a trainee in the Content Academy Ignite program at Sky.

Leave a Comment