India captain Ajay Kumar Reddy, who won the world cup, on Monday urged the BCCI to support blind cricket.
India’s blind team recently won the T20 World Cup for the third time in a row, beating Bangladesh at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. But despite the achievements, 10 players in the 17-man squad are unemployed and due to the lack of financial support, many find it “difficult to continue the sport” as they are “preoccupied” with earning a living.
“We won the World Cup for the third consecutive time, but we don’t have a title sponsor,” said Reddy, who scored a century in the final.
“It is very difficult to play cricket when we know that we have a bigger job to make a living so that we can support our families,” Reddy said on the sidelines of a congratulations ceremony hosted by Union sports minister Anurag Thakur.
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In April last year, the BCCI had recognized the Differently-abled Cricket Council of India (DCCI) to promote the sport among physically disabled, deaf, blind and wheelchair users. However, according to G Mahantesh, the president of the Cricket Association of the Blind in India, not much has changed in terms of support for the blind cricketers.
“BCCI has always been sympathetic to us by providing us with infrastructure and training facilities, but to bring more professionalism, we also need their financial support,” said Mahantesh.
Reddy, who has led the team to two T20 blind World Cup trophies – 2017 and 2022 – is unhappy with the excessive delay in developing a roadmap.
“The (BCCI) recognition has happened, but there is no roadmap for our sport, nobody knows what happens. We have also brought the country fame on the cricket field and deserve the (BCCI’s) central contract,” added Reddy.
Sunil Ramesh, who scored a century-long hat-trick during the World Cup (against Nepal, South Africa and Bangladesh) and was named ‘Player of the Tournament’ and ‘Player of the Match’ in the final, also said that with the pressure to provide for their livelihoods, the BCCI support will go a long way towards securing their lives.
“We have no financial support, no jobs and no security whatsoever. That’s why we only collect for the World Cup or a bilateral or triangular series, which are few and far between. If the Indian board wants to, we can also play professionally,” said the 24-year-old all-rounder from Chikmanglur.
When asked what he would say to the Indian team, which has not been awarded a World Cup trophy since its 50-over format title win under Mahendra Singh Dhoni in 2011, Reddy said visualization works wonders for him and his team.
“I would say every player needs to visualize a little bit before bed. That has helped us overcome many of our technical shortcomings and I am sure Indian players will also benefit from it.
“Being in the India team means they are very good, but corrections (in technique) are a must and visualizing someone’s dismissal or a bad ball or poor fielding helps correct mistakes,” opined Reddy.