2021 will be fondly remembered by Isaac Bidla having recently won the Sport Administrator of the year and Sport Team of the Year with a Disability in the 2021 Gauteng Sport Awards.

Johannesburg – Lions Blind Cricket is a Non-Profit Organization that is the custodian for blind cricket in Gauteng and is responsible for the development, administration, and promotion of cricket for blind and visually impaired people in Gauteng.

Walking away with two awards at the Gauteng Sports Awards in November, we caught up with the man that makes things happen: Mr Isaac Bidla. He talks about his unwavering devotion to the game, weekend practices and how the game has allowed him to discover, develop and display his leadership qualities.

  1. Tell us about yourself?

I was born in October 1985. I am currently the President of Blind Cricket South Africa, Lions Blind Cricket President, and Captain of the South African National Team (Proteas Blind) in One Day International and Twenty20 International cricket.

I was born and bred in a small town called Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape. I attended my primary and high school at Mthatha Efata school for the blind and completed my masters’ degree at the University at Tshwane University of Technology.

As early as 2 years old, my parents realized that I was partially sighted, and they thought it’s the end of the world. Being partially sighted though has in no way limited my opportunities and has helped me discover my passion for cricket, leadership roles and changing people’s lives.

In 2003, I was introduced to blind cricket by my late brother Sonwabile Bidla at Efata school. I fell in love with the game instantly and haven’t stopped since. I have collected a few trophies and accolades over the years which sit with great pride in my living room – I am eternally grateful for what the game has given me.

My aspiration is to promote and enhance the game of cricket amongst blind people. I will continue to work towards advancing and transforming blind cricket in South Africa and to initiate, develop and maintain a structure for the smooth running of cricket for the blind in the country and as well as at regional and grassroots level.

2. How does blind cricket work?

Blind cricket is a version of the sport adapted for the blind and partially sighted players. The rules of blind cricket are based on the standard laws of cricket with some modifications.

Eleven players make up a team: a minimum of four players are totally blind (they are classified as B1) and three partially blind players (classified as B2), and a maximum of four partially sighted players (classified as B3). The B1 Batter must have a runner. A B1 classified cricketer should bat in one of the first three batting positions. There should be at least two B1 batters, and a minimum of three in the first nine. A bowler in this class may bowl to any batter but may only face a bowler in the same class. Bowling must always be underarm.

All games are played on the normal cricket field and the difference is that in the middle of the pitch must be clearly marked with a line across. When the bowler is bowling, the ball must at least bump before and after the line so that the batsman will be able to hear the ball. The ball is 3-inches in diameter and made of hard white plastic. It contains loud ball-bearing rattles for audible tracking.

In terms of catching, a “one bounce” catch by a B1 player will result in the batsman being given out but for B2 and B3 players, its normal catch. When it comes to dismissals, the batsman can be given out if he is bowled, caught , lbw, stumped, run out, hit wicket, handling the ball, double hitting, obstructing the field or timed out.

3. Talk to us about the season thus far? How has the team performed?

We have thankfully achieved many wonderful things thus far, including:

  • 2021 Sport Team of the Year with a Disability in the 2021 Gauteng Sport Awards.
  • Lions Blind Cricket won the provincial series hosted in Johannesburg in April 2021.
  • Lions Blind Cricket won all provincial games of which the team beat the previous highest innings in a T20 cricket game of 312 runs.
  • During the series and tournament Lions Blind Cricket players scooped all bowling awards in all the eyesight categories (b1, B2 and B3). 
  • 8 players and 1 administrator were selected for preliminary SA squad that will represent SA in Pakistan and World Cup 2022.
  • Gauteng Sport Awards awarded Isaac Asanda Bidla, 2021 Administrator of the Year and Cricket South Africa awarded CGLBC player (Buhle Bhidla) best blind cricketer of the year.
  • Gauteng Cricket Board awarded 7 CGLBC players for National achievement awards.

Lions Blind Cricket operates within a community: A community full of hope, inspiration, opportunities, and challenges. I for one cannot wait for 2022 because we are passionate and determined and absolutely loving every opportunity to embrace the game we love!

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