Visually impaired cricketers should get same status as Indian cricketers, says John David, cricket coach of the blind Indian team
Says he finds it hard to get the ground to organise matches, selection trials, India camps.Updated: Oct 16, 2018 15:03 IST
Blind cricketers put in equal dedication, effort and hard work, like the regular Indian cricketers. The Indian blind cricket team has so far won the 50-over World Cup, two T20 World Cups, two Asia Cups and four bilateral series. Currently, this Indian team is considered the best in the world. What they need is a little support from their country and the same status as Indian cricketers, says John David, cricket coach of the blind Indian team.
John, who is also partially blind, was captain of the Maharashtra blind cricket team in 1997 and has played several domestic tournaments. He is also secretary of the Cricket association for the blind in India. In this interview with Ashish Phadnis, he speaks about the challenges of blind cricket at the top level.
What are the biggest challenges facing blind cricketers?
The major challenge we have been facing is unavailability of grounds. We find it hard to get the ground to organise matches, selection trials, India camps. Blind cricket is quite difficult and different from regular cricket. What we feel is that we should get the same facilities our Indian cricketers get from the BCCI. We need more focus and we can create more champions.
What is the current scenario of blind cricket in India?
The situation is much better compared to the condition some 10 years back. Now corporates sponsor tournaments. I remember we used to travel in the railway’s general compartment, without worrying about food and other facilities. The entire team would play with just two bats, as it wasn’t affordable for everyone to own a kit and bat. Fortunately, my father was in the Army and he presented me with a good quality bat.
Now, players are getting prize money. After winning the world cup in Dubai, we received Rs 5 lakh from the Indian government, Rs 3 lakh from BCCI and also some state governments offered cash prizes to their players. This is a good beginning. At least the money has started pouring in. What we need now is that financial security for our players. Like our captain Ajay Kumar Reddy, most of the players are working and they are forced to take leaves to attend tournaments. This has to be changed.
What are your plans to promote the sport?
We don’t need to promote the sport, as cricket is like a religion in our country. We need to encourage visually impaired kids to shed away negativity and start playing on the ground. For that we have started including local players in the Indian team wherever we play an international tournament. In Pune, we have Pravin Karloke and will keep on rotating other players as per the venues.
India take the lead in 5-match series
India defeated Sri Lanka by 39 runs in first game of the 5-match T20 series in Pune. The Indians who batted first put on a huge total of 190 after losing six wickets in their 20 overs. There were contributions all around with D Venkateswara (50) standing out with a half century.
Chasing a big target Sri Lanka were never in the hunt as they lost wickets at regular intervals. The only saving grace for the Lankans was the half century from Ajit Silva as the Indian bowlers ensured that the home team had an easy win. The second game of the series will be played in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Brief scores: India 190-6 in 20 overs. (D Venkateswara 50n.o, A Sampath 2-25); Sri Lanka 151-9 in 20 overs (Ajit Silva 57, Durga Rao 2-24).
Man of the match: Durga Rao