Earlier this month, the Indian cricket team made history by becoming the first team in 140 years to win against an Australian team in a bilateral series with three or more matches. With this spectacular performance, India has moved to Number 1 in the T20 ICC rankings.
However, another cricket team from India, which has been performing astonishingly well but hasn’t got much recognition and attention, is India’s blind cricket team.
In 2014, India won the Blind World Cup, when it beat Pakistan in the finals. But unfortunately, the Indian team is the only one which is not affiliated to its country’s national board.
Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met the team and spoke about the team on his show, Mann Ki Baat, not much has changed and they are still struggling for support.
The Indian blind cricket team was formed in 1998. Currently, the team is managed by the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI). It is associated with World Blind Council, and is the apex body governing blind cricket in the country. Around 25 states are associated with CABI and it is the only authorizing body to get other teams to play blind cricket.
Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) is an independent entity - backed by Samarthanam Trust, a non-profit trust.
They are in dire need of funds. The situation of the team members is pathetic. They are struggling financially, staying in hinterlands of Indian villages. Some live hand to mouth, doing odd jobs.
Take for instance 29-year-old Ketan Patel, who is a partially blind cricketer, and has been playing for 12 years now. He won the Man-of-the-Series award for India's blind cricket team in the recently concluded ODI and T20 series in England, but is languishing without a job and any potential career growth. Despite many requests to the Gujarat government, Patel has been unsuccessful in finding much needed employment.
Despite earning “enough” by rice farming and milk selling, Patel is struggling to make ends meet. Patel, who debuted in 2004 at the National Blind Championships in Chennai, is still hopeful.
Despite their struggles, the team has been formidable and its performance exemplary. In December 2012, India won the first T20 world cup in Bangalore and in 2014, they won the ODI World Cup in Cape Town. It is the only blind team in the world that has won the T20, ODI and Asian championship. No other team has won all three championships.
The team believes that donations and awareness will make a huge difference. With better equipment, they can perform better. And with some help from the government, they can get jobs and a life of dignity.
BCCI is yet to recognize blind cricket and this is one of the team’s major demands as well, but it is not expected to happen anytime soon.
In the last few years, the CABI supported by the Samarthanam Trust has always ensured that the Indian blind cricket team gets all the help it can get to compete at the international level but currently their funds have dried up. In the past, most of the cricketers have paid for the expenses out of their own pockets.
Currently, their focus is on the upcoming T20 Blind World Cup in November and December this year, for which they are raising funds in partnership with Milaap, the fundraising portal. They are looking to raise a total of Rs 50 lakh which will help to pay for their kits, coaches and other expenses.
If our readers wish to donate or support the team, here is the link.