Lighting up a hard road
Cricket T20 World Cup for Blind
There were faces in the crowd that had no idea what the function was all about, but to the players who sat in close proximity, it was more than what they asked for.
It is a tough world out there for the visually impaired cricketers but for around three hours on Saturday evening at the Sree Kanteerava stadium, they forgot about everything and were mesmerised by the sights and sounds of the inauguration ceremony of the T20 World Cup for the Blind here.
“This is a very happy moment for us,” said an elated Bangladesh skipper Md Hafizur Rahman. “We are taking part in the World Cup for the first time and we are overjoyed by what they have put on for us. We are thankful to everyone.”
The teams went on a march past and were thrilled to see the turnout as they pulled out their phones and took pictures while some recorded the voices around the stadium. “There is so much dancing and music in India. It is a lot of fun,” remarked an elated English skipper Luke Sugg.
The festivities captured not only the hearts of the cricketers, it also stirred a feeling of pride in many others who witnessed the proceedings. “I did not know that so many people support the blind. I have always found it hard (being blind).
I heard from some people that it is a good function and there are a lot of children singing and dacing. I wish more and more people come out and support the blind. I am feeling very proud of these cricketers. It is not easy,” said Vinod, a student.
Around four thousand children sang and danced to Hindi and Kannada songs while the teams were especially captivated by the Yakshagana artists. The show-stoppers, however, were the blind singers and their melodious numbers.
While the smiles of children and cricketers from nine nations stood out, more than half of the dignitaries who were expected to the present on the decided to stay away. Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga, India’s World Cup-winning ’keeper Syed Kirmani and former India skipper Sourav Ganguly were expected to grace the event, but the three backed out.
The one celebrity who was present was legendary Indian leg-spinner B S Chandrashekar. “Two years ago, Samarthanam (the organisers) invited me to watch a match and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t know the rules but I enjoy it. I think this (cricket) gives them the motivation to achieve bigger things. It all comes down to will power in the end. You can do anything you set your mind to.”