Sunday, 4 May 2014

5 team building lessons from blind cricket

(c) Suraj Gurung/NBA
George Bernard Shaw once said, “Cricket is a game played by 22 fools and watched by 22,000 fools.”

Now replace the fools with blinds and read the sentence again. And that happened last February, when I was invited to a tournament to select the team for the upcoming Blind World Cup Cricket being held in Johannesburg of South Africa this November. The only difference was the number of spectators – they were less than few hundreds. However, were mostly blind.

It was my turn to be a fool amongst them – dumbfounded to see their skills, courage and camaraderie.  

Being a communicator, I was gleaning lessons for professionals while watching the cricket.

Diversity is the key to develop a good team and succeed
Each of the two playing teams have 11 players comprising a minimum of 4 totally blind players (B1s), 3 partially blind players (B2s) and a maximum of 4 partially sighted players (B3s).

The B1 players wear a blue wrist band on the right arm, while B2 players wear a red arm band on the left arm. The B3 players don an orange arm band on the left arm. The mix of the teams motivates them to perform well. 

Likewise, if you have a team of diverse people, you will get a motley array of ideas – ranging from stupid ones to bright ones – which are a must for coming up with a winning team.

Equity motivates the team
In blind cricket, a B1 batsman has a runner and a B2 batsman has the option of a runner. When a B1 batsman scores a run, it is counted as two runs. Likewise, if a B1 player takes a one bounce catch, the batsman is given out.

The bowling is underarm and the ball has to pitch once before the mid pitch. This limits the height at which the ball will reach the batsman.

Equity, not equality all the times, motivates the team members. If the ones with less skill are prioritised to develop their skills, cohesiveness develops and everybody feels as a part of the team.  

Well informed teams perform a fair game
The ball used is made of hard plastic and filled with tiny ball bearings. It makes sound while being bowled or hit by the batsman. The bowler gives an audible signal before bowling and the batsman gives an audible signal when he is ready.

The team members should be always aware of what their mates are doing. If the members are aware of each other’s work plan, they tend to work together for complementarities, helping each other and avoiding duplication of work. The turf issues are also minimised once they know each other’s priorities. 

The feeling of oneness builds a responsible team
One thing that I rarely see these days was the coming together of the blinds, irrespective of their caste, religion and regions. There was an immeasurable joy amongst them. They had forgotten that they are living with any sort of stigma.

It was the feeling of oneness, their friends were more closer to them than their family members, relatives and society. They were happy to be in their own world – a world of people similar to them. There was no feeling of “we are less fortunate than others”. And this helped them perform better, work together and lead a life of dignity.

In a team, the members must forget their caste, religion, regions and status in the society. This allows them to develop the feeling of oneness and responsibility to the team.  

Equal opportunity to all team members is the secret to performing better
The blind cricket is a perfect example of providing equal opportunity to each team members. When a batsman is given out, the new batsmen must come from a new group (B1, B2, B3) in sequence, allowing all an equal chance to perform.

In a team, if all team members are given equal opportunity in terms of exposure, skill enhancement and recognition, the team remains a thriving and kicking bunch of outperformers.

After hearing so much about the blind cricket, you must watch in person how the game is played. I am certain this will motivate you to be a better team player. And if you watch it together with your team mates you will enthuse the motivation to outperform in each of your team mates. 

Like me, you will also differ with George Bernard Shaw and say, “Blind cricket is a game played by 22 team players and watched by hundreds of team playing aspirants.” 

If you want to know more about the blind cricket, click here for a link to the World Blind Cricket Council rule book.

Now it’s your turn to add to the list of lessons on team building gleaned from the blind cricket.

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