Meet Amanda Large: an international women’s VI cricketer

Post date: 
Monday, 21 May 2018
Cricket bat

From the doctor's office to the playing field, Amanda Large talks about how losing her sight led her down a path she'd never imagined. 

Amanda Large from Manchester was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in her early 30s. A practicing GP at the time, Amanda had to retire from the job she loved after her sight loss started to affect her ability to work with patients. 

An avid sports player before her diagnosis, years later Amanda discovered visually impaired (VI) cricket, and she hasn’t looked back since.
 

“Three years ago, I didn’t even know blind cricket existed! That was until I did a web search for VI sport. I was desperate to play anything, because after I lost my sight I wasn’t able to play hockey or lacrosse anymore,” says Amanda.

Amanda now plays in the domestic team for the Lancashire Lions VI Cricket Club.
 
“When you play domestic VI cricket, you use the same field, bat, scoring system and number of players as sighted cricket, but we use an audible ball instead of a regular ball (which is still bowled overarm) and the wickets are taller with no bails on top,” explains Amanda.
 
Each team has to have a certain mix of players with different sight classifications. These classifications are used in all competitive VI sports and help to ensure a fair and equal playing field:
  • B1: This category includes people with no light perception in either eye up to light perception, but they must be unable to recognise shapes at any distance or in any direction.
  • B2 and B3: Both of these categories include people with a low level of usable partial vision. B3 is the highest category used for international and Paralympic sport.
  • B4: This category is specific to sport in the UK and includes people with a good level of partial sight.
Players wear different coloured wristbands that represent their sight classification. B1 fielders are usually positioned closer to the action and are allowed to catch off the bounce, whereas players with more usable vision are nearer the boundaries. Umpires also brief bowlers on the classification of the batter, as the ball needs to bounce once or twice depending on the batter’s level of vision. B1s have a runner too.
 
In July 2018, Amanda and 18 other female players from across the UK will come together to represent Blind Cricket England and Wales in their first ever international match. The team, along with family and friends, will be travelling to Barbados to play against the West Indies VI cricket team.
 
Amanda, who volunteers as the treasurer and a welfare officer for the charity, is organising the tour and shares what she hopes will come from the visit:

“Women’s blind cricket isn’t as established as men’s – the team only got together three seasons ago, so we’re still developing and strengthening our skills. Part of our training even involved playing matches against players with sim specs. We haven’t lost a game yet! (Well, apart from one…)
 

“I hope that our tour will not only raise awareness of women’s blind cricket in the UK so that more women with sight loss can get involved, but hopefully we'll also receive funding opportunities as a result too.”

Since last year, the team has fundraised £25,000 of their £35,000 goal for the trip. If you would like to donate, visit their Virgin Money Giving webpage. If you would like to find out how to get involved in VI cricket (anyone from the age of 12 can join), please visit the BCEW website.
 

Further information

  • Manpower Group, a recruitment agency, is sponsoring the team’s gear to help promote employing people with sight loss.

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