Friday, 20 April 2018 - 9:20am

Howzat for playing a blinder?

2 min read

News article photos (2 items)

BC teams
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Keep your eye on the ball, they say – but now some Police cricketers have learned what it’s like to play when you can’t see what’s coming at you.

A Hawke’s Bay Police team has played a T20 match against a team from Hawke’s Bay’s Blind Cricket club, who pursue a version of the game adapted for participants with impaired vision.

To level the playing field, the sighted players each wore ‘sim specs’ simulating the visual impairment of one of their opponents.

The game was a nail-biter, with the Police team chasing down a 94-run target with just two balls to go.

“It was awesome – an absolutely cracking day,” says Detective Steve Leonard, who organised the game. “Everyone involved wants to do it again.”

A rematch is on the cards – and the blind team is keen to face other Police opposition when the new season starts in September.

The game was suggested by Steve’s wife Erin, who works for the Blind Foundation. Steve gathered a scratch team of colleagues of all abilities and none, and they played on Sunday 8 April at St Johns College in Hastings.

Blind cricket is open to men and women and is played all round New Zealand and internationally.

It involves metal stumps and a plastic ball containing a bell to provide audible signals. Batters are limited to 20 runs “and all bowling is Aussie-style, underarm,” says Steve.

Steve says his sim specs gave the impression of looking through frosted glass.

“Not being able to see changes everything,” he says. “You might be able to see the ball, then it moves and you can’t see where it’s gone.”

While some of the more serious cricketers in the team carried them through, Steve’s innings lasted two balls. “I got one hit and didn’t run because I couldn't hear where the ball went. On the second ball I was bowled out.”

The triumphant bowler was Mike Marsh, club president and a former member of New Zealand’s Blindcaps international team.

“We had a great day,” says Mike. “We were rapt that these guys were prepared to put on those simulator glasses and give it a go.”

The team used to play in the national blind cricket tournament but has decided on a more social approach. Now they are keen for opposition, Police and otherwise.

“I think Gisborne Police are quite keen to have a crack at us,” says Mike. “There are some teachers interested and some farmers from southern Hawke’s Bay.” A trip to the South Island is also planned.

Steve recommends a match for getting people out of their comfort zone and having fun. “It was absolutely brilliant,” he says.

If you have a team interested in taking on the Hawke’s Bay blind cricket team, email Mike Marsh.