Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Adaptive Version of Cricket in US

In the United States where sports play an immense role in society, cricket does not receive the same attention as other sports like football and basketball. So the idea of an adaptive version of cricket for the blind on American soil would require a much further stretch of the imagination. However, England’s Cricket for Change Charity, which runs the largest cricket program on the planet for disabled players, has sky high expectations for the game’s potential. The charity hopes to have the U.S. completely involved in the blind cricket community by May, so ambassador Andy Dalby-Welsh came to New York.
Dalby-Welsh, who has been blind for the past 11 years, played for his native England in the 2002 and 2006 Blind Cricket World Cup in India and Pakistan. For the past 2 years he has traveled to countries in Africa and the Caribbean in order to expand the game. “I love it,” says Dalby-Welsh. “It completely changed my life. I want to give people the opportunity I’ve had in this game.” A stop on his New York excursion sent him to a cricket club in Brooklyn for a demonstration. The game of course, is a variation of the version sighted competitors play. Bowling, which is baseball’s equivalent of a pitch, is done underhand as opposed to the typical overhand one bounce delivery. The ball is the same size as a regular cricket ball and just about as hard, but it’s the ball bearings inside that produce a sound when the ball moves. Before rolling the ball toward the batsman, the bowler must yell, “Are you ready?” to which a batsmen must reply, “Yes.”  Despite the fact that everyone is legally blind, blindness is particularly categorized for this sport. B1 for totally blind, B2 for partially blind and B3 for strong visual impairment. In order to field a team it is necessary to have three B2s, four B1s, and four B2s. Totally blind players are taken to their positions and back-up runners do the running for them.
With the assistance of the USA Cricket Association (USACA), Cricket for Change hopes to discover and develop approximately 20 U.S. players. They ultimately wish that their efforts would culminate in a U.S. Blind Cricket World Cup entry. If that comes to fruition, America will join Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the West Indies for the show-down. The tentative date is June 2011 in the UK, and USACA Rep Clifford Hinds says, “We’re confident of starting in New York, and that it can grow quickly – very quickly.” Cricket for change shares Hind’s enthusiasm, especially when they consider the fact that the game has made it in some third world countries. The charity’s program director Andy Sellins said, “it could be the best in the world.”

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