March 19, 2016

The mainstream cricket following in Pakistan has grown exponentially, even eclipsing the national sport hockey. But will it be called discrimination on the part of fans who didn’t notice the remarkable victory of Pakistan’s deaf cricket team against England clinching the Deaf ICC Championship title?

The four-nation tournament involving Pakistan, England, South Africa and India was held in Dubai from March 9 to March 14. Unfortunately, the six-day affair could not muster the attention and media glare that it deserved.

Pakistan emerged victorious by beating England in the final by three wickets while chasing down a decent total of 226 runs.

Pakistan’s Waqas and Zaka Ahmed withstood the English bowling attack and scored 76 runs and 69 runs, respectively. Their individual innings helped team green successfully chase the total in 48.4 overs.

It could be labeled the perfect revenge on part of  Pakistan who had earlier lost to England in the tournament by 16 runs. One of the matches of the tournament, between Pakistan and India, could have been billed as a thriller and used to garner media attention, but this didn’t happen.

According to the Deaf International Cricket Council (DICC), all hearing aids must be removed during all deaf cricket matches when on the playing field so that all deaf and hard of hearing cricketers are on a level playing field. It decrees that all communications on the field is conducted using lip-reading and basic sign language.

It  is heartening to see that cricket has expanded so much in recent years that it is making strides into new areas and aiding the efforts to breaking down barriers for all.

This initiative  could create more opportunities for deaf cricketers in years to come but a lot more needs to be done for the recognition of these cricketers. This includes creating awareness among fans through proper projection of matches by the cricket board, good stipends for players to encourage talented young  deaf  boys to join the sport and, last but not the least, is acknowledgment of their talent at the government level.

Lest the performances and achievements in deaf cricket fall on deaf ears, measures should be taken to encourage and improve these efforts.

The writer tweets @Azharkh4