History of Cricket for the Blind in Pakistan and Introduction to PBCC
If we study the Pakistan’s sports history since independence we would know that the blind just like sighted people have been keenly interested in Cricket. In the beginning the blind only enjoyed cricket while listening to commentary on the radio but soon, they started taking interest in practical cricket.
At first, a ball made from cane fibres was used on a small ground and a ‘Playing XI’ was only six. The pitch too, instead being of full length was half and a piece of wood, 4 feet long and 4 inches wide was used as the ‘bat’. An empty drum was used for the stumps. Bowlers bowled and batsman ran between the wickets following the sound of drums.
There were no regular rules for playing this form of cricket for the blind and the period till 1975 was just a source of recreation for the blind.
From 1975 to 1982, a steel ball replaced the cane fibre and full-length pitch was used. Eleven players started playing instead of the six but the shape of bat and wickets did not change. A trend developed to play matches at the school level.
The first regular match for the blind was played in Karachi in 1978 between Lahore and IDA RIEU School, Karachi. During this period several matches were played at school level.
The love for cricket among the blind increased many fold and Cricket was popularised throughout the country.
From 1982 to 1996, a plastic ball replaced the steel ball. The stumps were made of pipe resembling the regular ones replaced the drums. A regular cricket bat came into use instead of a piece of a wood and pads and gloves were also used in this period. Rules for Cricket for the Blind were framed too.
The most important step in this period was the emergence of cricket clubs for the blind in Pakistan. Many cricket tournaments were organised at the District and Provincial level on a regular basis.
Sighted people also started taking interest in the cricket for the blind.
In August 1996 the first International Conference on Cricket for the Blind was held in Delhi, India, in which seven (7) countries from all over the World participated.
Agha Shoukat Ali, who is considered the founder and life and soul of cricket for the blind in Pakistan, represented the country in this conference.
Rules and regulation for cricket for the blind were formed in this conference.
In 1997 the foundation was laid for the development of cricket for the blind in Pakistan named ‘Pakistan Blind Cricket Council’ (PBCC).
From 1997 onwards many registered clubs have come into existence and are affiliated with the Pakistan Blind Cricket Council.
Cricket is now played regularly in schools among the blind.
Tournaments are regularly organized in different cities of the country so that the blind may be able to meet, exchange information and have some fun.
Rules similar to ‘sighted cricket’ are observed for cricket for the blind whenever it is played and efforts are being made to spread this all over the country.
Pakistan Blind Cricket CouncilThe Pakistan Blind Cricket Council is registered and affiliated with the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC) and is its permanent member. The PBCC attends all the International Conferences and is playing its part practically.
One can understand and visualise the fact that cricket for the blind is developing because the institutions of normal cricket are fully cooperating.
The Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board and famous scientist, Dr A. Q. Khan have started taking interest in the Cricket for the Blind and this is the most positive sign for us.
Dr A. Q. Khan has played a vital role in accepting to become the Patron of the Pakistan Blind Cricket Council for the development of cricket for the blind in Pakistan. This will help us in making Pakistan cricket for the popular on National and International levels.
As an example it would be of interest to know the PBCC arranged an unofficial match between the blind cricket team and sighted team of National Bank of Pakistan in April 2000 and this was telecast twice on television. This match has not just helped in increasing cooperation between blind cricket players and sighted cricket players but also helped in generating self-confidence in the blind cricket players.
The Council is playing its role fully, in education, training and rehabilitation of its players. The Council has helped the blind by providing them books in Braille, issuing scholarships and arranging jobs.
The Council has helped five blind sportsmen in getting jobs in this brief span of time.
The Pakistan Blind Cricket Council is the only organization for representative games on National and International levels.
It has its own office and staff and large sums are spent every month.
The Council does not have its own resources to meet its expenses and is facing the problem of lack of funds. This organisation tries to meet its obligations with personal aid provided by its officials and friends. Many times loans have to be taken in order to run the organization.
This is a sad fact and moreover, Government and private institutions do not seem to help the organization although appeals have been made many times.
If the situation remains as it is, then the existence of the organization will be impossible.
The Council feels proud as it has represented the Nation on International levels and has also made the people aware of the capabilities of the blind.
It has taught the blind the manners of living, helped in their education, training and settlement. The council has given the blind their due position amongst the world of sighted people after highlighting their hidden qualities and capabilities in a brief span of time. Which, interestingly, the Government institutions have been unable to do in last 55 years even after spending huge amounts.
The 2nd World Cricket Cup for the Blind is to be held at Chennai and Bangalore in India during December 2002. The PBCC wishes anxiously, to participate but finance is the main hurdle in front of us to take part in the event.