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Is Colin Jodah USA's First Blind Cricketer?

By Lloyd Jodah

Feb. 4th, 2010
Colin Michael Jodah, 53, a right-handed batsman and bowler, grew up playing cricket, then when his high school's cricket facilties were in disrepair he switched to, and represented Queen's College in ping-pong and badminton. Colin was such a talented athlete he represented Guyana in Field Hockey. Just before the 1975 Pan American Games he broke his right arm, learned to write with his left, and later made a return to hockey.

(L to r) Andy Sellins, Lloyd Jodah and John Aaron in a deep conversation after the practice session. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Now an American citizen, the ravages of diabetes, a hereditary illness, have left Colin blind in one eye, and visually impaired in the second - by American definition, he is "legally blind". The complications of diabetes have also left him with other disabilities. On dialysis three times a week, he is awaiting a kidney transplant. Most days however you could not tell what challenges he faces as his ready smile and great sense of humor breaks through like the sun through clouds. Colin exudes the kind of spirit and inner strength that strengthens all around him.

A human being's abilities to persevere despite disabilities have always interested me, and watching my brother has enlightened me beyond words. So when I had the opportunity to involve him, and myself in Blind Cricket, it felt right. On Sunday, in Brooklyn the visiting delegation from Cricket for Change led by former head coach of the England Visually Impaired cricket team and a founding member of the World Blind Cricket Council, Andy Sellins, Adam Hall and Tony Rodwell gave a demonstration that allowed us sighted folk to get an insight into Blind Cricket. Krish Prasad, John Aaron, Clifford Hinds, Sew Shivnarine, Zamin Amin, Daily News Reporter Mark Lelinwalla and others took turns playing with eyes closed with the visually impaired Andy Dalby-Welsh of Cricket for Change and my brother Colin Jodah.

To the delight of some, the bowling was "under-hand," something any cricketer who grew up in Guyana is familiar with. Completely blind bowlers stand, touch the bowling stumps and bowl towards the clapping of the wicketkeeper. Visually impaired bowlers like Andy Dalby-Welsh, actually run up and bowl. Colin tried his hand at bowling with a short run-up. The ball was filled with bearings that made a sound to enable the batsmen, the wicket-keeper and the fielders to play by ear.

Batting with eyes closed, we swung and missed, eventually learned a bit, and rejoiced at making our first shot! The sweep and reverse sweep is the most popular shot in Blind Cricket, and I missed until I tried those shots. We had to listen keenly for the ball as it came our way. The highlight of my day was playing a regular on-drive, and making contact!

Asked what he thought of his introduction to Blind Cricket Colin said, "You think of the game as you know it...and wonder how blind cricket is possible. But then when you learn the auditory cues and rules you begin to understand...it’s great for people with visual impairments to participate in something like this. In fact it can include people with other disabilities and challenge them to improvise ways of playing, whether it’s batting, bowling or fielding."

Blind Cricket allows 3 levels of players - 1. completely blind, 2.visually impaired and 3. fully sighted. The cooperation required of this combination is truly one of life's lessons, particularly when one realizes that both Colin Jodah and Andy Dalby-Welsh both had full sight, and as adults, due to different illnesses, became "legally blind" or "visually impaired." Unfortunately blindness can strike at any age.

Colin said, " This is great...I would like to play a bit, though my other disabilties affect my balance. I would like to help coach too."

USA Cricket Rep Clifford Hinds felt it was important to give visually impaired and blind people with a cricket background the opportunity to play the game, whilst USA Cricket Director Krish Prasad and Executive Secretary John Aaron thought it was the kind of endeavor USA Cricket could get behind.

For Colin Jodah life is now an innings of grit and determination, being hit by bouncers, ducking, taking scoring opportunities as he gets them and playing a ball at a time. The kind of heroic innings we see from the great batsmen. Even getting a new kidney is difficult and filled with disappointment as he's called, then cancelled. But Colin Jodah bats on, and waits for a kidney.

Whether its blindness or any other disability, how would any of us handle it should a disability happen to us? Colin Jodah demonstrates the inner strength we possess, everyday.

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