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Cricket match will pitch Glasgow City councillors against team with sight loss

It's just not cricket!

Except it is. Visually impaired cricket, played between a team of Glasgow City Councillors and people with sight loss in the city's Kelvinhall Sport and Leisure Centre this Wednesday (April 10th).

The specially arranged indoor match will pitch eight city councillors - wearing blindfolds or 'sim-specs' that simulate different sight loss conditions - against a team of members, volunteers and staff from sight loss charity RNIB Scotland.

Visually impaired cricket, in fact, is played internationally and there is an International Blind Cricket Team.

With visually impaired cricket the ball is larger and filled with ball bearings to provide audible cues. The size allows partially sighted players to see the ball and the contents allow blind players to hear it. The wicket is also larger and has flashing light bails on top that will make a noise when they fall off and hit the ground. The bowler must shout 'Play!' as he/she releases the ball, and totally blind fielders are allowed to take a catch on the bounce.

Councillor Saqib Ahmed, who represents the city's Greater Pollok ward, has organised the event in partnership with Cricket Scotland's participation team.

"This match will give everyone involved an insight into a world without sight, " he said. "I used to play cricket for a club, which I really enjoyed. Following a discussion about cricket with James Adams, the director of RNIB Scotland, we agreed to hold a cricket match with people who are visually impaired playing. To make this possible, I spoke to Ammar Ashraf of Cricket Scotland.

"I hope it will highlight the difficulties which are faced by people who are visually impaired on a daily basis. We want to raise awareness that people with sight loss can still play sports and that Glasgow as a city wants to encourage this."

Taking part in the match, Jamila Shaikh from the city's west end has cone dystrophy which affects her ability to sense colours. She has no central vision and describes her peripheral vision as 'like looking through the dense fog'.

Jamila said: "I am delighted that this cricket match has been organized, as many visually impaired people find it difficult to get access to play sports. I am hoping that this match will highlight that, with the right accessibility, many more visually impaired people will take up the opportunity to play sports."

Madison Garland, disability cricket development officer for Cricket Scotland, said: "We jumped at the opportunity to set up this exhibition match to help raise the awareness of not only VI cricket but of disability sport, and the lack of opportunity that those with a visual impairment or disability have.

"We hope that this will create a conversation with the councillors, who will experience first-hand what it is like to have a visual impairment and push them towards assisting in creating more opportunities for people with a visual impairment within their communities.

"We are all extremely excited about the match and look forward to creating future events in partnership with RNIB Scotland and Glasgow City Council. "

As well to Cllr Ahmed, other Glasgow City councillors taking part are Hanif Raja, Frank McAveety, Rashid Hussain, Martin McElroy, Maureen Burke, Graham Campbell, Jim Kavanagh, Matt Kerr and Robert Mooney.