A blind umpire may be one of the most frequently used excuses for losing a cricket match. But this Saturday, Springwood cricketers might have to think of something else because the umpire will be the only person on the ground with full sight.
Blind Cricket NSW will play their first game of the season against the Springwood Cricket Club at Lomatia Park this Saturday starting at 11am.
The match will be played in the blind cricket format with all Springwood cricketers wearing ‘blackout glasses’ and relying on instinct and hearing alone.
Blind Cricket NSW secretary Graham Coulton said the game is not entirely different to sighted cricket — with a few obvious exceptions.
“They are very similar games. I feel our guys will be able to show Springwood a thing or two about underarm bowling,” said Mr Coulton.
“But when Springwood puts on the blackout glasses, they will essentially be playing on the same level as our guys.”
The players will use an official ball which is hollow and contains a bell so batsmen can judge its proximity. For the Springwood players used to fast, rising bouncers and toe-crushing yorkers, the game will present a unique challenge.
“I think the Springwood boys will have no trouble adapting to our game,” said Mr Coulton.
New South Wales player Ben Phillips agreed.
“It’s not a difficult game to pick up,” he said. “It’s really a good test of communication skills.”
Communication will certainly play a part as the Springwood team features players from seven different grades. With the blackout glasses and the sheer quality of the opposition, the Springwood players will have every right to feel overwhelmed when they step out onto the ground.
Luckily, they will enjoy a short coaching session before being left to their own devices.
“The main thing [for Springwood] won’t be skill, it will be learning and remembering the modified rules,” said Mr Phillips, a Springwood product himself.
“It’s all about communication between the bowler and the wicket-keeper, the keeper and the fielders and, of course ,the batsmen.”
Planning has been non-stop since last November when Ben Phillips spoke at the Springwood Cricket Club Legends Dinner where his grandfather Wally Phillips was inducted as a legend.
Ben challenged Springwood to a match on the night, an invitation president David Williams gladly accepted.
The players from the two teams will meet after the match for refreshments. Spectators will get a chance to meet the NSW team and get a feel for the game of blind cricket.