Kerala Blind Women's Cricket team. © The New Indian Express

Players are keeping fit during the COVID-19 lockdown by following fitness drills given by team trainers based on equipment available at players’ homes. The mental aspect is been taken care of by masterclass sessions, counselling etc. The Kerala Blind Women’s side has also taken up the challenge in the right spirit as Vidya Vijaykumar, the former player of Pathanamthitta team, has been guiding them through Whatsapp, reported The New Indian Express.

“I’m focusing on improving my handgrip and strength while batting,” said Thanooja George, captain of Kerala’s blind team side. “Since blind cricket uses underarm bowling, we cannot practise hanging ball drills, where the ball is placed at a greater height.”

George is a partially sighted player, so she spends her spare time watching cricket and listening to commentary. She is one of the three allrounders in the side and has been trying to stay in touch with the sport by practicing various batting techniques and positions at home.

The Cricket Association for the Blind in Kerala (CABK) has been organising online sessions on spoken English and house management, which interests Ani AP, a team member from Malappuram. “Cooking is something that interests me other than cricket,” she said.

Despite such inspiring things, the government has largely neglected visually-challenged cricketers during the lockdown.

“Some senior players stopped playing and now work at rehabilitation centres due to lack of financial assistance given to them by the government,” said Rajanish Henry, vice-president of Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI), who is also the CABK secretary. “We are now giving them training in personality development and home science as well, so as to help them build a career outside of cricket.”

“Most parents of the players are daily wage workers. With many being out of work, their situation was getting worse and we had to do something to help them. The team’s sponsors and well-wishers helped us mobilise the fund.”

Henry also said that it is tough for most visually-challenged people to follow the COVID-19 norms. He added that the CABK is creating awareness regarding the same and helping the players out.

“There is a fear of going outside as social distancing is difficult for them. So, we are creating awareness programmes for the society and the visually-challenged community.”