This past weekend, a vision impaired cricket camp was held in New Zealand as part of a broader attempt to rejuvenate the sport in the country. 15 people attended. The camp was organized by New Zealand Blind Cricket Association INC, after being instigated by Donna McCaskill and James Dunn.
The camp started on Friday, where organizers and players got to know each other better, and began to get a handle on how much people knew about blind cricket. This was followed by a two hour session where people’s basic skills were tested.
On Saturday, there was a morning session, where players had a walk around the grounds to get a better feel for the field, ask more questions about the game and find inspiration to play. According to NZ Blind Cricket, McCaskill made the following statement during the session, “We can all achieve the things we want but we have to want them enough to get up and achieve them. Nobody can hold you back because only you have the power to hold yourself back. When I was made to feel I was there to make up numbers, I found the determination to prove those people wrong.” After a break, there were body training exercises and exercises to learn how to better hear the ball and communicate with teammates. Following lunch, players went to Parnell Crickets Terry Jarvis Centre, where players practiced basic cricket skills.
On Sunday, Halberg Disability Sports represenative and past NZ White Ferns captain Maia Lewis and NOLIMITS Sports Training Academy’s representative and New Zealand international in women’s rugby, touch rugby and body building Tui Katene gave a skills training session. Then Lewis and Katene discussed nutrition and hydration with players. In the afternoon, players went to Bloodworth Park for a hit around. Lewis, Katene , McCaskill and Dunn all participated in the session. Following the afternoon session, McCaskill is quoted as saying, “”What made this development camp so successful is the positivity of every person in this room. Every single one of you is a positive person and THAT is what we all learn and feed from. Every one of you has the potential, we can see it, now you need to. You all have something – a skill – that can be developed on. Congratulations, you survived your first serious blind cricket training camp.”
Blind cricket is played by several nations, including India, Pakistan, England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. There is a World Cup for the sport held every four years. Players with vision impairments classified as B1, B2 and B3 are eligible to play. On the field during competition, teams are required to have a minimum of 4 B1 players at any time, and are allowed a maximum of 4 B3 players on the field at a time.
Blind cricket has a long history, going back to at least the 1920s in Australia, when the first balls were specifically created for vision impaired players. Victorian Blind Cricket Association is one of the oldest organizations dedicated to the sport, having been created in Melbourne in 1922. In 1928, they constructed the first purpose built field and club house for vision impaired players in Kooyong, Melbourne.