Visually impaired British Asian cricketer to play for England at the Blind World Cup
Image by Blind Cricket England & Wales
A blind cricketer who has been selected to play at the upcoming Blind World Cup is looking forward to showcase his abilities as a sportsperson.
35-year-old Tokeer Akhtar, who has family in Blackburn said that he wants to inspire others who are like him to take part in sports. He was born with complete eyesight but gradually began to lose his vision when he was in his mid-20s. This was the result of a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, which is hereditary.
From a very young age, Akhtar displayed exceptional interest and skills in the sport, be it in batting or bowling. The Bolton man said in an interview, “I was always interested in cricket and I used to accompany my dad to his games when he played in the Bolton Metropolitan League. I used to do the scoring.
“Later, as I turned 16 I was playing cricket in amateur leagues myself. This included the Bolton Indian Cricket Club, Kashmir and Young Stars.” However, as he grew older, Akhtar, who was an accomplished batter, began losing the ability to see the ball clearly.
By the year 2014, he quit playing the sport as his vision deteriorated. Akhtar only got to know about opportunities in the sport for the visually impaired last year. He said, “I wanted to do something and get back to being active and I ended up played for Lancashire Lions at the end of last season after impressing them.
“It changed things for me a lot and my outlook. “I ended up meeting Andrew Flintoff and others at the county awards night. “In September I was told of some trials for the national side and quite a few of us headed down to Birmingham.
“After the trials I thought nothing of it as I thought there would be so many other talented players out there” Akhtar was in Pakistan after his grandmother’s death when he received an email that mentioned he had been selected for the world cup.
“I was travelling at the time and I checked my e-mail and saw I had been selected. “It was a strange moment as it came during what was a sad time for the family. I didn’t tell anyone until later.”
He became the only player to be selected to represent England from the Lancashire Lions and has met the rest of the national team players during training sessions at Edgbaston. He said, “I am hoping now to join the team on a warm training session in Spain.
“I do feel I should have maybe got back into playing earlier but I think I was not in the right place and adjusting to all sorts of things as my life changed.”
He continued, “It is a proud moment for me. I have met so many inspirational people and I just wanted to tell others who may be in a similar situation not to give up. “I know it has come late for me but I am going to enjoy it much as a I can. “It is better late than never as they say.”