Blind Cricket in the UK

Blind cricket has been played in England & Wales since the 1940’s. Yhe sport was started as a means of recreation for injured servicemen coming home from the second world war and offers camaraderie and a chance to compete on equal terms for blind & partially sighted people.

All players are registered blind or partially sighted. Of the eleven players in the team at least four must be totally blind with the others made up from various levels of partial sight.

As of the 2018 season 21 counties or regions have competing teams, those are: Berkshire Stags, Cheshire Cobras, Derbyshire Owls, Dorset Dolphins, Durham Viper Jets, Gloucestershire Growlers, Hampshire VICC, Kent Spitfires, Lancashire Lions, London Metro, Northants Steelbacks, Nottinghamshire Knights, RNC Hereford Bulldogs, Somerset VICC, Staffordshire Wolves, Surrey VICC, Sussex Sharks, Warwickshire Bears, Wavertree Merseyside CC, Worcestershire Elizabethans & Yorkshire Vikings. Most of these teams provide funding from The Primary Club.

The British Blind Sport Primary Club Heindrich Swanepoel Memorial Cup was the first official blind cricket competition in the UK and has been running annually since 1979. Blind Cricket England & Wales also run a National League competition, 3 Regional Leagues, National and Regional Twenty20 Cups andan annual Development Festival. The ECB run the England Men’s VI Cricket Team & BCEW run the UK Women’s VI Cricket Team.

The main difference between standard cricket and blind cricket is the ball, a size 3 football is used in UK blind cricket to help the partially sighted players to see it and it is filled with a quantity of ball bearings to allow the totally blind players to hear it. The MCC Laws of Cricket have also been adapted in other ways in an attempt to allow blind & partially sighted people to compete on equal terms. The major variations are as follows:
** The wicket is larger, making it easier for the partially sighted players to see & easier for a batsman or bowler to touch for the purpose of orientation.
** The ball must pitch at least twice before reaching the crease of a totally blind batsman but must not be rolling.
** The ball must pitch at least once before reaching the crease of a partially sighted batsman.
** A totally blind batsman is given one chance before being given out LBW & cannot be stumped.
** The bowler must ask the batsman if he is ready before starting his run up & must shout “play” as he releases the ball.
** A totally blind fielder can take a catch after it has bounced once.

Lords Taverners have created a guide to visually impaired cricket and BBC TV show Blue Peter recently made a blind cricket film. For more information on blind cricket please visit the Blind Cricket England & Wales website.

David Gavrilovic
Vice Chairman of Blind Cricket England and Wales; Acting Chairman of British Blind Sport; Captain of Northants Steelbacks VICC.