The Blind Cricket South Africa team are hungry to represent their country in the T20 World Cup in India. Their first match is against Bangladesh on 31 January at 10am. In the lead up to the tournament, Brand South Africa sat down with the team’s manager.
South Africa is one of 10 countries that is participating in this year’s T20 World Cup Cricket for the Blind, hosted in India. The tournament starts on 28 January and ends on 12 February. The Blind Cricket South Africa team’s first match is on 31 January, when they take on Bangladesh. The game starts at 10am.
Countries contending for bragging rights are South Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, England, West Indies, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand. The finals will be played on 12 February in Bangalore.
The sky’s the limit
“This is a tremendous booster to visually impaired athletes, not only those who have been selected but also to others aspiring to represent their country in international sports,” said Armand Bam, Blind Cricket SA president, said in a statement. “This is but one manifestation that the sky is the limit in spite of disability.”
Wishing the team well, he added: “We know they will make South Africa proud. We call on all South Africans to get behind this team and encourage them both morally and financially.”
The Team SA have players who are totally blind and who are partially sighted, under captain Sonwabile Bidla from Central Gauteng. The vice-captain is Johan Schroeder from Northern Gauteng. Both are experienced blind cricketers.
An experienced management team would guide Team SA, said Bam. The manager is Philip Bam from Western Province, a long time administrator in the blindness sector. The coach is Francois Neethling from Pretoria, who is a seasoned blind cricketer, assisted by Alricht Schwartz of Western Province.
Brand South Africa chatted to Philip Bam ahead of the international tournament.
How many members are in your squad?
There are 17 players in the team in three categories of blindness: B1 for the totally blind; B2 and B3 for the partially sighted.
What ages are they?
The youngest player is 23 years old and the oldest is 42.
How many people are in Team SA going to the World Cup?
The South African party, including the coaches and managers, will be 21. Please note that the president of Blind Cricket SA, Armand Bam, is the World Blind Cricket Council‘s regional development director: Africa and the technical director on the executive committee.
How many times has the SA Blind Cricket team taken part in the World Cup?
South Africa’s national blind cricket team has participated in three blind cricket world cup tournaments. The last one was in Cape Town in December 2014.
How did they do?
Blind Cricket SA was formed in 1996 and took part in the first blind cricket world cup, which was not a T20. South Africa won. The inaugural T20 was in Bangalore, India in 2012. This is the second T20 in which South Africa is participating.
Who is SA’s biggest competition in this World Cup?
The main competition is India.
Are there different categories in which the team is playing?
No. South Africa will play all nine other countries.
How is blind cricket different from cricket for sighted people?
Blind cricket is played with a plastic ball with bearings inside that make a sound when played. Other laws of cricket – of the Marylebone Cricket Club – apply. Bowling is underhand. The stumps are of metal, making a clanging sound when hit. Otherwise, the game is played as sighted cricket is.
What are some of the team’s highlights and challenges?
This is a new team. There is not enough competition internally and hosting a national tournament is expensive. Some great new talent was identified. Funding remains the biggest challenge.
What are the team’s feelings going into the world cup?
The team says: “We go to win.” However, it will be a great development experience for the players. They are so proud to be representing their country.
Blind Cricket Team SA
Category B1 (totally blind): Johan Schroeder (Central Gauteng); Sergil January (Western Province); Make Jackson (KwaZulu-Natal); Doctor Malinga (Central Gauteng); Kenneth Mabela (Northern Gauteng)
Category B2 (partially sighted): Buhle Bhidla (Central Gauteng); Marco v d Linde (Western Province); Fredrik Boer (Boland); Joshua Douman (Western Province); Henry Masha (Northern Gauteng)
Category B3 (partially sighted, better vision): Tefo Classen (Free State); David Landry (Free State); Asher Hattingh; Israel Hattingh (Western Province); Lesiba Mathapo (Northern Gauteng); Dominic Adriaans (Western Province); Sonwabile Bidla (Central Gauteng)
The team leaves for New Delhi, India on 27 January.
Brand South Africa asked for comment from the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, but had not received any response at the time of deadline.
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