Mom, sons are heroes of T20 blind cricket

Mom, sons are heroes of T20 blind cricket

A visually impaired cricketer is in town with a story of grit and perseverance: she has raised two sons with a similar condition, and plays alongside them for her country.

Donna McCaskill is a member of the New Zealand team playing in the current T20 World Cup for the Blind in Bengaluru.

The team includes both her teenaged sons —Deacan Dunn and Marquele McCaskill.
Rules for blind cricket allow countries to field mixed teams. While Donna and Deacan suffer from congenital cataracts, Marquele is affected by glaucoma and cataract retinal detachment.

“I’ve always wanted to play internationally with the boys. Didn’t think it would happen, but here we are, and it’s pretty awesome to be representing New Zealand at a World Cup,” Donna says with a smile.

Mother as team-mate

Donna had always wanted to get into sport, and “cricket was the only thing back home then”.

Her sons echo her feelings, but it isn’t easy to have a mother as a team-mate. “She’s annoying sometimes, but mostly good. She really bosses us around,” says 15-year-old Deacan, with a mischievous peek at his mother.

Marquele (18) has a more mature response. “She’s always pushing us to strive for the best, be it on the field or off the field. Her goal is to ensure that we get the best and she will go to any extent to make sure that happens.”

So, what is it like being a part of a team that has mainly men as members?
“It’s a little bit hard, but since I’ve been playing with them for a while, I have sort of got used to it now,” says Donna.

She says there are times when she doesn’t quite fit in, “but the guys are used to having me around now”. The 37-year-old wicket-keeper’s international career spans over 17 years.

Self-funding

Blind cricketers in New Zealand rely heavily on private funding for their tours.
For Donna, president of the New Zealand Blind Cricket Association and member of the Blind Foundation in Auckland, having to raise about 10,000 New Zealand dollars for herself and her sons in less than seven months was not easy.

The response to a fundraising effort on a Kiwi website received limited response, and she had to fend for herself.

With an infectious air of self-belief and positivity, she says, “We didn’t get much on the website, but that’s okay. We could depend on friends and family members to help us out. Our entire trip is pretty much self-funded.”

She hopes in due course New Zealand cricket will come up with a system to allocate funds for players like her, like Cricket Australia does with that country’s blind team.

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