Blind Cricket has been played in England and Wales since the 1940's, the sport was started as a means of recreation for injured servicemen coming home from the second world war. The founding members of British Blind Sport (BBS) were cricketers. The sport offers camaraderie and a chance to compete on equal terms for blind and partially sighted people.
The England and Wales Cricket Board oversea's blind cricket in the UK but BBS and Blind Cricket England and Wales (BCEW) are the organisations who are responsible for the day to day running of the sport including making rules and doing development work.
All players are registered blind or partially sighted. Of the eleven players in the team, at least four must be totally blind.
BBS run the domestic Cup competition with BCEW running the league.
In 2017 the BCEW national league comprised of 8 teams: Lancashire, London Metro, Northants, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Sussex, Warwickshire & Yorkshire. There has been a national league since 1996.
The 2017 BBS Primary Club Heindrich Swanepoel Memorial Cup featured 9 teams, all 8 National League teams as well as Gloucestershire. This is believed to be the longest running disability cricket competition in the world, taking place annually every year since 1979. The final has been held on the Nursery Ground at Lords about 15times. In recent years the final has been played on the main square of a county ground or a ground with historical significance, this has included Edgbaston, The Ageas Bowl, BroadHalfPenny Down, Pentland Gardens (Hereford) & the County Grounds in Bristol & Northampton.
Since 2009 BCEW have held an annual Twenty20 Cup competition now known as the BCEW David Townley Memorial Twenty20 Cup, in 2012 2 Regional Leagues were launched for those teams not ready to compete nationally, in 2017 there will be 3 Regional Leagues, North & East, North & West and South & West.
In 2010 BCEW teamed up with the Brian Johnston Memorial Trust to launch an annual development festival, which has been staged at Leicester University since 2011 and has included between 8 and 10 teams each year.
During 2017 a total of 24 teams across 20 counties will play competitive blind cricket, with over 450 players involved.
BCEW also work with the ECB to run the England Blind Cricket team, who have represented the nation at 6 world cups. England finished third in 1998, 2002 & 2006 as well as fourth in 2012, 2014 & 2017. There have been 4 Blind Cricket Ashes series’s, England won the first two in 2004 & 2008 plus the fourth one in 2016, however Australia captured the trophy in 2012. So far the team’s travels have taken them to Australia, Dubai, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka & the West Indies, whilst Australia, India, Pakistan & West Indies have visited England.
The main difference between standard Cricket and Blind Cricket is the ball. A size three football is used in UK Blind Cricket to help the partially sighted players to see it and it is filled with a quantity of ball bearings to allow the totally blind players to hear it. The MCC Laws of Cricket have also been adapted in other ways in an attempt to allow blind and partially sighted people to compete on equal terms. The major variations are as follows:
** The wicket is larger, making it easier for the partially sighted players to see and easier for a Batsman or Bowler to touch for the purpose of orientation.
** The ball must pitch at least twice before the crease of a totally blind Batsman but must not be rolling.
** The ball must pitch at least once before the crease of a partially sighted Batsman.
** A totally blind Batsman is given one chance before being given out LBW and cannot be stumped.
** The Bowler must ask the Batsman if he is ready before beginning his run up and shout "play" as he releases the ball.
** A totally blind Fielder can make a catch after the ball has bounced once.
Lords Taverners have created a guide to visually impaired cricket which you can find by clicking here.
If you are interested in getting involved in blind cricket as a player, umpire, scorer, volunteer or sponsor, or if you have any other enquiry about the sport please visit our 'Contact Us' page by clicking here.
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