Australian Blind cricket team and Riverina cricket coach, Neil Mackay
Riverina cricket coach, Neil Mackay, heads to England this week to coach the Australian Blind cricket team in their own battle for the Ashes.
Mackay, who is visually impaired himself, has been a part of Cricket NSW Academy Women’s Programs in the Riverina for many years. During that time he has aided the development of many young cricketers, including NSW and Australian representatives Alex and Kate Blackwell. He has also served on the NSW Women’s Cricket Committee.
The Australian and England Blind teams will play three One Day and four T20 matches during the two week tour. The fixtures will be held at Malvern College in Worcester with the One Day matches deciding who wins the Ashes.
This will be Mackay’s first time in charge of an Australian team for an Ashes series. Australia has never won the Blind Ashes since the inception of the competition in 1996 and the last time the sides met, England won 3-0.
There are a few differences in rules. Blind Cricket sides are made up of players from three different categories, ranging from B1 where players are totally blind, to B2 where players have less than 5% vision and B3 where a player’s vision is less than 10%. Each team must have at least four B1 players with the remaining places made up by B2 and B3 players.
Bowlers deliver the ball underarm and each ball must bounce twice, once in the bowler’s half of the pitch then a second time before the popping crease. B1 players also score double the runs of B2 and B3 players.