Howzat! Students bowled over by blind cricket

Somersby Public students are the latest Central Coast school to learn the importance of inclusion in sport and life. Alyssa Terese reports.

A young boy wearing glasses plays blind cricket A young boy wearing glasses plays blind cricket
Image: Bowled over: Somersby Public students experience how to play cricket when vision impaired.

Blind Cricket is a disability awareness activity that has been taking Central Coast students by storm.

Delivered by Scott Jones, former captain of the NSW Blind Cricket team, the not-for-profit Social Futures program aims to develop students’ awareness of disability and demonstrate the ease and importance of adapting and being inclusive of all.

Scott lives with Stargardt disease – a form of macular degeneration – and has 5 per cent eyesight.

The cricket enthusiast explains that the program’s key message is around having kindness and patience with all, as you don’t know who around you may have a disability.

“With 20 per cent of our community having a disability and 90 per cent of those living with an invisible disability, the average person just doesn’t know who is living with a disability,” Mr Jones said.

“Through this awareness program, it is our hope that as the students get older, this awareness grows with them, and we ultimately live in a better world.”

Between July 2022 to December 2023, more than 3,200 students have participated in 143 blind cricket sessions across 33 Central Coast and Tweed Valley schools.

'Blind people’s lives really aren’t easy – they can’t just lift up their glasses to sneak a look.'

Shake, rattle and roll

The rules of blind cricket and equipment used is much the same as in standard cricket, but with a few key modifications.

“The cricket ball is hard plastic and filled with ball bearings to provide audible cues, the wickets are made of metal and can rattle when shaken to identify their location and all bowling is underarm for the safety of the players,” Mr Jones explained.

“Verbal signals are also widely used both by umpires and players. The bowler must ask the batsman if he is ready and shout ‘Play!’ as he bowls the ball, and they must bounce at least twice when bowling to a completely blind batsman but only once to someone with partial sight.”

During the activity, students wear modified sunglasses to imitate various visual impairments and experience what it’s like to not be able to trust one’s sight.

Hudson Clarke, Year 5 Somersby Public School student, said he found bowling with the glasses “hard” but had “lots of fun”.

Hudson’s classmate Airlie Taylor said she also enjoyed bowling, and it made her aware of how she had to rely on her hearing.

“Your brain will tell you to look the other way because you can see, but with blind people you have to just rely on your hearing for everything,” Airlie said.

“Blind people’s lives really aren’t easy – they can’t just lift up their glasses to sneak a look.”

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