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Blind cricket

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Players from the Indian Blind Cricket Team sharing their experiences at Disability Matters Asia Conference 2017 in Bangalore.

Wikipedia defines blind cricket as “a version of the sport of cricket adapted for blind and partially sighted players.” Before yesterday, I didn’t know it existed. Shame on me!

It is not every day that you get a chance to meet players of an international sports team. That happened to me at Disability Matters Asia Conference 2017, yesterday, July 28, where I met players from the Indian Blind Cricket Team. Although the conference was about innovations and best practices in the field of accessibility in software, prominent differently-abled people were invited to share their experiences. Top IT companies were invited to speak on accessibility in software, with Accenture being the lead event sponsor. The event was enlightening in many ways. I have separately written about my conference experiences on LinkedIn.

A blind cricket experience zone had been set up inside the conference hall. This was a pitch-sized area, bound by nets, where one could experience how blind cricket was played. Non-blind people were blindfolded before they were handed the bat. It was not surprising to see those people unable to even make contact with the ball. I did not try my hands at batting but watched intently when others did so.

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A blindfolded person tries his hands on batting.

Blind cricket is played with an auditory ball – a hollow ball filled with stuff that produces a rattling sound when the ball is rolled. The bowler, before throwing the ball, feels the stumps or the crease to make a sense of direction. Using their non-bowling hand as a rudder, they throw the ball with an underarm action. The batsman uses sweep-shot to maximize the chance of hitting the incoming rattling ball.

Each team has four players who are totally blind, categorized under B1, three players, partially blind, categorized under B2, and four players, partially sighted, categorized under B3. It is nothing short of amazing to see how the fielding side strategically uses this combination to cover the entire ground.

Blind Cricket is globally governed by the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC). It has 10 member countries, including all regular cricket test playing nations such as India, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa, etc. The governing body in India is Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI).

The whole experience was enlightening. I think it was a great idea by the organizers to arrange for this experience. As an IT professional, I found it particularly interesting to see in reality how the blind play sports. I was already getting some ideas about certain design elements to use and not use while creating accessible software.

Leading the contingent of players, present at the event, was Shekhar Naik, mentor and former captain of the Indian team. Naik has captained the Indian cricket team to two major victories – the 2012 T20 world cup and the 2014 world cup. He was awarded the Padma Shri earlier this year by the Government of India for this feats. It was an absolute honor to meet the man in person: a humble and down-to-earth guy, always ready to make friends.

Naik is partially blind and plays in the B2 category as wicketkeeper-batsman. He told me the stories of other players that he knew as well as his own. A lot of players in the team are congenitally blind, mostly due to heredity. In Naik’s own family, 15 others have some form of visual impairment.

To sum up, DMAC was one of the best conferences I’ve ever been to. I got a chance to meet some incredible personalities who have achieved phenomenal success despite struggling with even the simplest of things every day of their lives, things that fully abled people take for granted. I am glad that I now know something about how the blind play sports. This has opened up my thought process for designing more accessible software. I close my blog post with this beautiful picture where I am standing along side the Indian cricket team (Naik is wearing an orange cap).

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Don’t blame the players, blame the board

Enough! The huge defeat of the no. 1 Cricket test team at the hands of the English side was enough humiliation for the players already. But think about it, the Indian team lost the match because they didn’t have the will to win? True that the Brits had a seemingly more fierce hunger for a win, but how did they go about it? By practising. Now don’t even start by saying that India had the best and most experienced players in Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Harbhajan. Experience is one thing, but you need constant practice to keep yourself upto that level, especially in tests. But where was that practice? And who is culpable for that? The players, who never got the time and chance to acclimatize themselves on foreign soil? No. It’s the board, of course, who truly deserves the blame.

On one hand, BCCI wants to fill their vaults with huge piles of cash, and at the same time wants its players to “switch” between different formats of the game within the matter of days. They even forgot that the Brits were going into the series with a big advantage at their side – home conditions. And given the Indians’ lack of ability to play the swing and short balls, what did the board do to correct that? If it could not arrange for west-like bouncy pitches in India itself (for simulation of foreign conditions), they could, at least, have arranged for more time for the Indian team to practise in England itself before the start of the series. Shame, a real shame that did not happen.

I bet the day when the board starts caring less about the money and more about the true spirit of the game, India will start winning matches, consistently.

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What am I thinking?

Generally, I am regarded as a first-hand troubleshooter. People consult me when I am nearby and their PC is giving some problem. And it hurts me so much when I am not able to solve that problem, like it happened in the morning today.

Narain Karthikeyan is back in Formula 1. That’s a good news. I think he deserves being a regular at F1. Anyway, this time he’s with the HRT (Hispania Racing Team), rather than Jordan for whom he raced previously (2005).

Planning to visit Landmark bookstore today, in Gurgaon, after a long time, as suggested by Aman Mehra.

I recently read a nice speech by P.R. Sarkar where he presents his views on the reasons behind the formation of nations. I could not help myself agreeing to the view that the demarcation of nations does not happen so much because of culture, religion, people, and race, as it does because of the “sentiment” governing one or more of these factors.

Have not done much [PC] gaming of late. I have yet to take out some time for an ‘extended’ gaming session. I have a lots of them waiting to be finished.

Unity logo
Unity logo

Upgraded my Fedora to v14 (Laughlin) a couple of days back. I am happy to see the wonderful changes since v11 (Leonidas). Will be installing Unity‘s latest (v2010.2) tonight.