Blind cricketers play friendly match against WI
Members of the West Indies team had to quickly learn to ‘play by ear’ when they played against the Jamaica Visually Impaired Cricket Association (JAVICA) team on Wednesday, June 10. The friendly match took place at Sabina Park in Kingston, just ahead of their test match against Australia.
The seventeen-member JAVICA squad was able to play against by some of the top members of the West Indies squad including, Veersammy Permaul, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Denesh Ramdin, Devendra Bishoo, Rajendra Chandrika and Kraigg Braithwaite.
“This was really a great experience for us,” shared Jason Ricketts, a member of JAVICA. “It’s really an honour to be out here at Sabina Park rubbing shoulders with these players. These are the same men we look up to and listen to on the radio during cricket. We’re really happy for the opportunity and we’re really humbled that these men could actually make the time to come out and play with us. It really means a lot.”
West Indies bowler Jason Holder, described the experience as inspiring, saying, “Playing with the team of blind cricketers was a really great and inspiring experience. It’s amazing how they overcome their challenges to play the game. It’s not easy to do what they do and people will be inspired by what they can do. I’m also very happy that we were able to do this and give back to our region in this way.”
To level the playing field, the players on the West Indies squad were blindfolded, which forced them to rely on their sense of hearing to play the game. Using the specially-designed hard plastic ball filled with ball bearings which rattle when thrown, the cricketers also had to adjust their game play, using underarm bowling and the ‘sweep shot’, which gives them a better chance of hitting the ball.
“It’s nothing short of amazing what these blind cricketers do,” said Kamal Powell, senior sponsorship and development manager at Digicel. They’ve not only overcome what would seem to be a major challenge by others, they’ve also excelled at the sport and have made a name for themselves across the region.”
Powell added, “Development of the special needs community is one of our key focuses at Digicel through our Foundation and this commitment is in ingrained in every aspect of our company’s culture. In fact, we have a number of persons with special needs working in various areas across the business where they are also excelling and making a name for themselves in corporate Jamaica. ”
“We want to thank the West Indies team for taking time out of their busy schedule to make today a reality for these blind cricketers. This was an inspiring experience for both parties and the Caribbean people on a whole.”
The JAVICA team is the seven-time regional champion and will be travelling to St. Lucia to defend their title at the West Indies Cricket Council for the Blind (WICCB) Regional Tournament in July.