VISUALLY impaired county cricket arrives at Dean Park this weekend when the Dorset VI team takes on Hampshire VI in their season opener.
The 2014 campaign begins a new era for Dorset VI cricket. Nicknamed the Dolphins, the team has joined the Blind Cricket England & Wales South and West Development League and the players have been training hard throughout the winter.
The Dorset Blind Association announced: “We are delighted at the level of support we are receiving for the team.
“One of our trustees, Peter Marshall, spoke to the Dorset Cricket Society about his working life in sports journalism and Jonathan Holyhead, our CEO, joined him to tell the society about the work of the Dorset Blind Association generally and the formation and development of the Dolphins.
“Peter and Jonathan were delighted to receive donations from both the Dorset Cricket Society and the Bournemouth area committee for Hampshire County Cricket totalling £475, which will help fund the team during its first full season in action.”
The Dorset side, who played their first ever game last season in a friendly against Somerset, also received funding from Sport England.
Holyhead added: “Everyone at the Dorset Blind Association was thrilled to learn that we had been successful with our application to Sport England.
“The funding they are giving means that our visually-impaired Dorset Dolphins team can be properly kitted out with all the equipment they need and the players can fulfill their dreams of playing competitively.
“We can’t wait for the season to start”
Dolphins’ captain Steve Bailey paid tribute to the DBA for their assistance and encouragement.
He said: “The Dorset Blind Association have been very supportive and they have helped with funding and driving the project forward.
“You can see the impact with the number of people enjoying their cricket.” However, more funding is still needed and the DBA have applied for funding from Blind Sport UK.
The home game against Hamp-shire starts at 1pm tomorrow and the following week the Dolphins face London Metros.
There are many differences between standard cricket and visually-impaired cricket.
Greg Parsons of the Dorset Cricket Board explained: “In visually-impaired cricket they use a football filled with ball bearings. So the ball is larger and players can hear it when it is being delivered. The stumps are also bigger.
“With visually-impaired cricket you have a number of different categories of visual impairment.
“Blind fielders stand close to the batsman. They are allowed two bounces of the ball when fielding and two bounces when bowling.”
To find out more about the work of the Dorset Blind Association, visit dorsetblind.org.uk