Monday, 10 September 2012

The Paralympics

Fantasy Bob is sure he is not alone in finding the Paralympics inspiring, humbling and deeply enjoyable.  Just as with the Olympics he is disappointed that the programme did not contain cricket.  For there is a developing world of disability cricket, although FB is unaware whether any takes place in Scotland.

The most developed form is for Visually Impaired (VI) which has long been supported by the Primary Club.  The Primary Club is open for membership to any cricketer at any level of cricket who has been out first ball.  By some quirk of fate, completely unrelated to any skill on his part, FB failed to renew his membership this season.

In VI cricket, the ball is filled with ball bearings so it jingles and the rules require that it bounces twice - once in each half of the wicket.  Just as in some of the team sports seen at the Paralympics, the team must consist of a mix of players with varying levels of visual impairment.  For those with the most significant impairments, runs they score count double.

There was a series of matches this year between England and Australia.  England won both the ODI and T20 series.  There will also be a T20 World Cup in November in India.

There is cricket for the deaf and for those with learning disabilities.  There is also a significant programme under the ECB for cricket for the physically disabled including a County Championship with both hard ball and incrediball competitions.  On the ECB website is a set of rules for this competition which contain the following adjustments to the rules and confirm how deeply inclusive the game can be -

4.7Wheelchairs or other walking aids etc. will be classed as
a normal part of a batsman's equipment and will be
treated as such with regard to `Law 36 LBW' and `Law 35
Hit Wicket'.
4.8 When fielding, wheelchairs and walking aids may be
used to field the ball without penalty under `Law 41 Illegal
4.9 A ball struck by the batsman which rebounds from his
wheelchair and is caught by any member of the fielding
side without being grounded before or after hitting the
wheelchair, will be considered a fair catch. However, a285
ball which lodges or rests in or on a wheelchair will not
constitute fair catch.

Other special rules apply to runners.

Pakistan v England - T20 Feb 2012
Although England and Pakistan did play some ODI and T20 earlier this year in the Dubai, as yet there is no recognised international cricket for people with physical disabilities.  One of the barriers that needs to be overcome is the standardising of a classification system that will be accepted globally.  Perhaps the paralympics will give momentum to this task.

FB offers his support to all disabled cricketers and those working to develop the game.  The British Association of Cricketers with Disabilities includes in its website the following inspirational text:

Why Cricket?

Amongst the major sports, cricket is, perhaps uniquely placed in the width and depth of opportunities it presents for participation by people who have disabilities. It is a game played locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

It Is a game played by men and women, boys and girls and by all ages, races and creeds. It is a game open to people with a wide range of impairments. It requires not just players, but administrators,umpires, scorers, groundsmen, coaches and health specialists.

All of these roles represent an opportunity for disabled people to participate. There are now, and have been in the past, disabled people working at the highest levels of the game in these support roles.

It is a game that can be enjoyed at all levels of ability, from school team to full England team. It provides participants with the chance to develop their cricket skills and techniques to as high a level as their ability allows. 

This sums it all up really.  Cricket is for everyone.

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