26/11/2012 Durban SA Blind Cricket Team departing for T20 World Cup.Desigan Pillay,Shane Mahabeer assistant Manager and Mookash Parmeswar. PICTURE: SIBUSISO NDLOVU

India - Armed with bats and South African flags, three members of the KwaZulu-Natal Blind and Deaf Society jetted off to India on Monday to compete in the first Blind Cricket T20 World Cup in Bangalore.

Vice-captain Desigan Pillay assistant manager Shane Mahabeer and player Mookesh Parmeswar will join the rest of their teammates – travelling from other provinces – at the tournament’s opening ceremony at Bangalore’s Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday.

The team will compete in the inaugural event against blind cricket teams from eight other countries – Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies.

South Africa’s first match will be on Monday against Sri Lanka.

Bevendran Shunmugam, the chairman of the KZN Blind Cricket Association, said the tournament was wonderful for cricket and for the development of the sport.

Blind Cricket SA national co-ordinator Armand Bam, who is also the team’s coach, said some team members were blind while others were partially sighted.

Bam said the rules for blind cricket were based on the Marylebone Cricket Club rules that applied to standard cricket, but was adapted to suit blind players.

“The ball is pretty much the same size as a standard cricket ball, but made from hard, white plastic, and filled with ball bearings that make a rattling sound.

Batsmen listen for the sound it makes when bowled down the pitch,” he said.

The stumps, made from wood or metal, have no bails and are a luminous orange, and the boundary is closer in – 40 to 50m – with a 20m inner circle.

As in standard cricket, there are also 11 players a side, but there are strict rules about the team’s composition.

Players are categorised as B1 (totally blind), B2 (partially blind) or B3 (partially sighted).

According to the rules, teams should have a minimum of four totally blind players, three partially blind players, and a maximum of four partially sighted players.

The rules also reveal the degree to which partially sighted players can actually “see” the pitch.

A totally blind batsman is allowed to have a runner, while a partially blind batsman can choose to have one or not.

The rules further state that all runs scored off the bat of a totally blind batsman will be doubled and credited to that batsman.

Also, a totally blind fielder is entitled to take a one-bounce catch to end a batsman’s innings.

Bam said the preferred stroke of most blind batsmen was the sweep shot.

Bowling is restricted to underarm.

The rules state that before making a delivery, a bowler must first ask the batsman if he or she is ready.

The batsman will then respond by shouting “yes”.

The bowler will start his run-up and, at the point immediately before releasing the delivery, will shout “play”.

Totally blind batsmen cannot be stumped out, and must be judged lbw twice before being dismissed. Daily News