The India captain of the blind cricket team Ajay Kumar Reddy on Monday urged the BCCI to provide financial support and a proper roadmap to bring professionalism to their game. But despite the achievements, 10 players in the 17-member squad are jobless due to the lack of financial support and many find it "difficult to pursue the sport" as they are "preoccupied" with earning a livelihood.
The Indian team for the blind recently won the T20 World Cup for the third consecutive time, defeating Bangladesh at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. The previous two T20 World Cup wins for India came in the years 2012 and 2017, respectively.
"We have won the World Cup for the third consecutive time but we don't have a title sponsor," said Reddy, who scored a century in the final.
"It's very difficult to play cricket when we know we have the bigger task of earning livelihood so that we can support our families," said Reddy on the sidelines of a felicitation ceremony organised by Union sports minister Anurag Thakur.
In April last year, the BCCI recognised the Differently-abled Cricket Council of India (DCCI) to promote the sport among physically challenged, deaf, blind, and wheelchair participants. However, not much has changed in terms of support for blind cricketers, according to G Mahantesh, the President of Cricket Association of the Blind in India.
"BCCI has been sympathetic to us all along providing us with infrastructure and training facilities but in order to bring more professionalism we need their financial support as well," said Mahantesh.
"The (BCCI) recognition has happened but there is no roadmap for our sport, no one knows what's happening. We have also brought glory to the country on the cricket field and deserve to get (BCCI's) central contract," added Reddy.
Sunil Ramesh, who hit a hat-trick of centuries during the World Cup (against Nepal, South Africa and Bangladesh), and was adjudged 'Player of the Tournament' and 'Player of the Match' in the final, too said that with the pressure of earning a livelihood, the BCCI support will go a long way in securing their lives.
"We have no monetary support, no jobs and no security whatsoever. That's the reason we only assemble before the world cup or a bilateral or triangular series, which are far and few between. If the Indian board wants, we too can play professionally," said the 24-year-old all-rounder from Chikmanglur.
Asked what he would say to the India team, which has gone without a World Cup trophy since the title triumph in the 50-over format under Mahendra Singh Dhoni in 2011, Reddy said that for him and his team visualisation work wonders.
"I would say every player should do a bit of visualisation before sleep. That has helped us iron out a lot of our technical flaws and I'm sure India players will also benefit from it.
"The fact that they are in the India team means they are very good, but corrections (in technique) are a must and visualising one's dismissal or a bad ball or poor fielding helps correct mistakes," opined Reddy.
India defeated Bangladesh in the final clash of the T20 World Cup for Blind on Saturday. They registered their third title of the tournament. In the match, India beat their opponents by a huge margin of 120 runs. Captain Ajay Kumar Reddy and Sunil Ramesh guided India to win with their brilliant knocks. While Ramesh smashed 136 off 63 balls including 24 boundaries and one six, Reddy hit 100 off 50 balls