Blind Cricket has been played in England and Wales since the 1940’s, the sport was started as a means of recreation for injured servicemen coming home from the second world war. The founding members of British Blind Sport (BBS) were cricketers. The sport offers camaraderie and a chance to compete on equal terms for blind and partially sighted people.
The England and Wales Cricket Board oversees blind cricket in the UK but Blind Cricket England and Wales (BCEW) are the organisation who are responsible for the day to day running of the sport including making rules and doing development work.
All players are registered blind or partially sighted. Of the eleven players in the team, at least four must be totally blind.
The 2022 BCEW Primary Club Heindrich Swanepoel Cup features eight teams: Cheshire Cobras, Kent Spitfires, Lancashire Lions, London Metro, Northants Steelbacks, Somerset VICC, Sussex Sharks & Yorkshire Vikings. This is believed to be the longest running disability cricket competition in the world, taking place every year since 1979. Until the end of 2021 it was administered by British Blind Sport so was known as the BBS Primary Club Cup.
The final of the cup has been held at a number of historic venues or county cricket grounds, these include The Lords Nursery Ground (about 15 times), Edgbaston, The Ageas Bowl, BroadHalfPenny Down, The Brightside County Ground (twice), The Northamptonshire County Ground (twice), The County Ground Beckenham & Pentland Gardens (Hereford).
In 2022 the BCEW National League has two divisions with the top flight consisting of Metro, Northants, Somerset & Sussex, whilst the second division is comprised of Surrey VICC, Kent, Lancashire & Yorkshire. The blind cricket National League was founded in 1996 & has taken place annually ever since.
Since 2009 BCEW have held an annual Twenty20 Cup competition now known as the BCEW David Townley Memorial Twenty20 Cup. In 2012 two Regional Leagues were launched for those teams not ready to compete nationally, in 2017 this expanded to three Regional Leagues which in 2022 will be the Midland, Northern & Southern Regional Leagues.
In 2010 BCEW teamed up with the Johnners Trust to launch an annual development festival, which has been staged at Leicester University since 2011 and has included between 8 and 10 teams each year.
During 2022 a total of 25 teams across 20 counties will play blind cricket, with over 450 players involved. Current teams include: Berkshire Stags, Birmingham Stars, Bradford & District, Cheshire Cobras, Derbyshire Owls, Dorset Dolphins, Durham VICC, Gloucestershire Growlers, Hampshire VICC, Kent Spitfires, Lancashire Lions (Two Teams), London Metro (Two teams), Northants Steelbacks, RNC Hereford Bulldogs, Somerset VICC, Staffordshire Wolves, Surrey VICC (Two teams), Sussex Sharks, Wavertree Merseyside CC, Worcestershire Elizabethans, Yorkshire Vikings (Two teams).
BCEW also work with the ECB to run the England Blind Cricket team, who have represented the nation at 6 world cups. England finished third in 1998, 2002 & 2006 as well as fourth in 2012, 2014 & 2017. There have been 4 Blind Cricket Ashes series, England won the first two in 2004 & 2008 plus the fourth one in 2016, however Australia captured the trophy in 2012. So far the team’s travels have taken them to Australia, Dubai, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka & the West Indies, whilst Australia, India, Pakistan & West Indies have visited England.
In 2015 BCEW started the UK Women’s VI Cricket Team to enable female players from all across the country to have the opportunity to play international cricket. After two & a half years of training sessions, practice matches & friendly matches mostly against fully sighted opposition, the team embarked on their first international series in Summer 2018. That series was held in Barbados & saw the UK Women claim a 4-1 series win against the West Indies VI Women’s Team.
The main difference between standard Cricket and Blind Cricket is the ball. A size three 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 and 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 and easier for a Batsman or Bowler to touch for the purpose of orientation.
** The ball must pitch at least twice before the crease of a totally blind Batsman but must not be rolling.
** The ball must pitch at least once before the crease of a partially sighted Batsman.
** A totally blind Batsman is given one chance before being given out LBW and cannot be stumped.
** The Bowler must ask the Batsman if he is ready before beginning his run up and shout “play” as he releases the ball.
** A totally blind Fielder can make a catch after the ball has bounced once.
If you are interested in getting involved in blind cricket as a player, umpire, scorer, volunteer or sponsor, or if you have any other enquiry about the sport please visit our ‘Contact Us’ page by clicking here.