Blindness is one of the most challenging disabilities to deal with. Not being able to see the surroundings can make life very difficult, leave alone thinking of playing a sport. However, Ajay Kumar Reddy, the captain of Indian blind cricket team, did not let his determination be dampened. He led the country to victory in the World T20 title clash.
Ajay is a B2 category player (players who can see up to 6 metres); he is a right-handed fast bowler and top-order batsman and was also a member of the Indian blind cricket team that won the fourth ODI World Cup in 2014.
Ajay started playing cricket when he was 12. “In 2006, when I saw Shekar Naik, former captain of the Indian blind cricket team, play, I decided to make a career in the sport. I was selected for the Andhra Pradesh team in 2006, and then for the Indian team in 2010. In my first tour to England, I won two Man of the Match awards. Later, the management asked me to take up captaincy,” says Ajay, who graduated from Nizam College in Telugu literature.
The State bank of Hyderabad, where Ajay is working as an Assistant Manager, has supported him a lot. Adding further, Ajay says, “One should be determined to win, because we all are flawed in one way or the other. No one has all the competencies to face the problems that life throws at us, but we shouldn’t give up.”
Coming from a small village, Narasaraopet, in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, Ajay lost his vision as a child due to an eye infection. However, his family, especially his father always supported him and despite financial issues never asked him to stop playing cricket.
“After I joined the Lutheran High School for the Blind in Narsaraopet, my family went through some tough times financially. But whenever I needed money for my tournaments, my father always managed to arrange. Later, when my brother started working, he took care of all my sports activities,” says Ajay.
Like many other sports, blind cricket too isn’t famous in India and hence doesn’t get much sponsorship. “My teachers and school were very supportive. However, when I started playing professionally, I realised this format of cricket had no proper sponsorship, or grounds. We used to practice on the red mat ground; many players didn’t even have the money to buy a proper bat. I must say, that blind cricket has come a long way and now, although little, we do have sponsorship,” adds Ajay, who is a fan of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
Talking about the team’s win in the T20 world cup, Ajay says, “Our team was very strong. Although, some of the players come from a very poor background, they are all passionate about cricket.”
Ajay feels that the government should support the sport and visually-impaired cricketers.
“We have achieved so much — we have won the ODI World Cup, Asia Cup and now the World T20 as well; I think it is high time the government starts supporting us. Not all Indian team members have jobs; some even earn a living by selling things in the train. We have put in a lot of hard work to bring accolades to the nation, it is government’s duty to see that we are rewarded well,” adds Ajay....