Disability not a difficulty | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 02, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 02, 2015

Disability not a difficulty

Int'l cricket meet for physically challenged starts today

"I used to play gully cricket back in the schooldays and that was fun. But never did I even dream of representing my country in an international tournament," an emotional Alam Khan, who seemed to be breathing heavy, told reporters.

The enormity of the achievement was evident in the way Alam spoke; he took his time and cautiously chose his words. Alam is going to lead Bangladesh in the ICRC International Cricket Tournament for People with Physical Disabilities, which begins at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur today and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the tournament.

The other participants in the five-nation T20 event are Afghanistan, England, India and Pakistan. The captains of these teams were present at a press conference that marked the preview of the tournament, and like Alam, they all seemed equally excited.

"We're a little less experienced than the others," admitted Alam. "We just trained for four months. The other teams have been playing for a long time. Gradually we will get better. But this is obviously a big occasion for us.

"People who looked at us differently in the society will now come to the field to cheer for us, cheer for our country and that feeling is amazing," he added.

Alam is one of the 26 members who were selected during a talent hunt camp organised by the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) in March 2015 in a bid to form a team for this tournament.

Bangladesh's ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, who is also the brand ambassador of the ICRC, echoed Alam's views.

"I think this is a tournament that should not only inspire the physically challenged cricketers but also us. I have practice sessions to attend the next few weeks so I don't know how much of the tournament I can watch, but I think it's more important for the media to provide them with exposure.

"You may know the physically challenged don't get much exposure. The Bangladeshi team perhaps has lesser exposure than the others. So I think this is a great initiative," said Mashrafe.

While Alam put in a measured statement, his Pakistani counterpart, Hasnain Alam, exuded much more confidence. But towards the end he too resorted to the tournament's bigger motive.

"As far as the Pakistan team is concerned, we are very well prepared. We played against England and Afghanistan and beat both of them.

"But more importantly, this is a good opportunity for the physically challenged people, those who are playing and watching to understand that the most important thing is your will. The ability basically comes from confidence," said Hasnain.

Speaking of confidence? England skipper Iain Nairne seemed to have no shortage of it.

"This is a chance for us to show to the world that disability does not impact our ability. We will be playing the same shots as the Test cricketers, bowling the same balls and probably take the same catches," exclaimed a motivated Nairne.

Afghanistan captain Mohammad Ashraf and India skipper Dinesh Kumar reflected a similar intensity. Of the five teams, India's are the only one not recognised by their national cricket board.

Bangladesh will take on England at Mirpur in the opening game today; after which the rest of the games will take place at BKSP in Savar. The final of the tournament will be held on September 10.

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