July 15, 2024

Celebrating victory

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By Tommy Shikwambani

The Central Gauteng Lions (CGL), displayed incredible resilience to be crowned champions of the 2021 Blind Cricket South Africa (BCSA) T20 National Tournament.

The challenging cricket tournament was held at Johannesburg’s Imperial Wanderers stadium where six teams of visually impaired players – KZN, Free State, Northern, Gauteng, Limpopo, Border and GCL competed from October 4 to 7.

In the end, it was CGL that emerged victorious when they beat Northerns in a tough final with 47 runs.

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Blind cricket is similar to regular cricket, the difference being the type of ball used. The ball is white, larger than the regular cricket ball and makes a sound to help the blind and partially sighted players track its movement in the air.

The bowling is also different as it must be done from under the arm and the players are categorised as B1, B2 or B3 according to the level of their blindness. The B3s are partially blind and the B1s are totally blind.

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Captain Buhle Bidla told ThisAbility that the win followed weeks of intense preparations amid limited resources. “We tried by all means to ensure that we are physically, emotionally and mentally prepared for the tournament.”

For coach Michael Da Silva the win was an exciting and proud moment for the host team and can be attributed to the mental strength of the group, as well as not underestimating opponents.

“It has taken a while for the achievement to sink in, because of the challenges we needed to overcome. But now I can say it’s an awesome feeling, especially winning at our home, Wanderers Stadium. I am extremely proud of the team,” said.

Da Silva congratulated the Northerns for the competitive game they played in the final. “I think one team that really improved was Northern Gauteng. They made the final an exciting game.”

Central Gauteng Lions pose with their trophy after winning the 2021 BCSA Top20 National Tournament. Photo: Supplied

The CGL coach highlighted that although the areas for recruitment is not as large as some”, the team wants to attract as many visually impaired cricket players as possible and also to create awareness.

Media liaison officer Ndumiso Nyawose said the live commentary added an exciting element for spectators especially the visually impaired.

He said BCSA’s ambition is to get blind cricket to the status of being professional as that will assist to get players paid, but that calls for sponsors to make the dream come true.

Nyawose added that a lot of teams from outside the country have expressed an interest in competing against South African blind cricket teams.

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