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Sense over sight for this Zimbabwe commentator

india Updated: Jul 25, 2013 02:26 IST
Sahan Bidappa
Dean du Plessis

Dean Du Plessis has not seen a game all his life, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a cricket pundit. That is because blind by birth, Du Plessis still has a vision and heart to describe cricket, which he so dearly loves.

At the Harare Sports Club, as action unfolds on the pitch, Du Plessis is spot on in his analysis. Armed with a keyboard that is attached to his iPhone, he types down his views with an application in the phone repeating the word he files.

The Zimbabwean writes a column for a local paper and has also been a TV and radio commentator as recently as the Zimbabwe-Bangladesh series in May. He is not on air for the India series, and Du Plessis, who doesn’t get paid for it, can’t hide his disappointment. “I have no idea why they have not stuck with me,” says Du Plessis, who made his TV debut in 2003.

Nothing is impossible for the 36-year-old who works as a switchboard operator for a transport company. He has driven a bike and a car, and has an intuition which he says is ‘God given’. Du Plessis lives an independent life; he got married recently to a girl who he says he ‘hooked up with’ all by himself.

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However, cricket is his first love. Dean, who has had countless knocks in their backyard with his brother Gary, who played for Mashonaland, turned a cricket fanatic after Zimbabwe upset England in the 1992 World Cup. He’d practice mock commentary in school and college. He has become so perfect with his description of the game it’s hard to tell he is blind.

Du Plessis, with the help of stump microphones, is able to describe the shot a batsman plays when the bat makes contact with the ball. “I can make out when a batsman plays a crisp cover drive and when he plays a yorker. These are different bat sounds that now I’m familiar with,” says Du Plessis, making the bat sound with unbridled enthusiasm.

He is also familiar with the players’ exertions and their cries of elation or frustration and can gauge the capacity of the crowd by the noise they make.

So has he ever got it wrong? "Many times," he says. "But even the sighted people make mistakes, so I am allowed to," he chuckles.