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Blind cricketers snatch glory in the NCIC

The inaugural 2017 National Cricket Inclusion Championships saw South Australia and Western Australia’s combined Blind and Vision Impaired claim the national title after blitzing Victoria in the Grand Final held in Geelong on 24 January 2017.

The tournament, which is played in the Twenty20 format, included more than 200 players competing in three divisions; Blind and Vision Impaired, Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Cricketers with an Intellectual Disability. The championship is the first time the three divisions have been included in one competition.

The South Australian Cricket Association provided a $20,000 grant towards sending 23 players across the three divisions to the championships.

SA/WA chased down Victoria’s 2/183 and triumphed in 16.3 overs without losing a wicket. The victory was led by South Australian duo Ricky Segura (83*) and Stephen Palmer (79*) who were incomparable throughout the tournament and batted right through the innings.

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To win the National Cricket Inclusion Championships in the Blind Division for SA/WA was the most incredible feeling. Right from the beginning back home in SA the feeling amongst the group was great! The support the players and staff received from all involved helped us become a professional outfit.

“Having played in two previous finals and losing the last one we were determined to win this one. Everyone performed to the best of their abilities and worked together as a team which was the key to our success,” said Stephen Palmer.

Eugene Negruk – President of Blind Cricket South Australia – said SA/WA had a standout team.

“Winning the NCIC was extremely satisfying for everyone involved. From the players who have now played in three T20 finals in a row (winning two), to the players participating in their first final, right up to those who spent many hours organising the team and getting them to Geelong. SA/WA was by far the most professional team in the tournament and the result speaks for itself. As President of BCSA, I am incredibly proud of the players who all played their part and more importantly played as a team to make this result possible!”

The result is an outstanding feat for SA/WA, sustaining only one defeat from six group matches. Some of the state’s Blind and Vision Impaired went on to compete in India for the World Cup Twenty20 Blind Cricket in February 2017.

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing team finished fourth in its division after losing by seven wickets to NSW in the third-place decider.

“As a sport for all South Australians, it is important that SACA commits to funding these elite athletes in representing our state at national competitions,” said SACA Chief Executive, Keith Bradshaw.