According to Riaan Cronjé, South Africa’s deaf cricketers are good enough to win the upcoming T20 World Cup in Qatar.
After all, the team boasts a good testimonial – they recently settled with an Indian touring team, while they also came up with solid performances at the past international knock-out tournaments.
Although the national coach knows that anything can happen in cricket’s hit-and-run format, he has confidence in his players’ ability to shine on the big stage.
“We are blessed with very talented players. About 99% of the team plays club cricket with non-deaf players and the group maintains a good balance between experience and young players who have suddenly made progress,” Cronjé told RNews.
One of the rising stars is Heinrich Badenhorst, a keen cricketer from Pretoria who was born with marble bone disease (sclerosteosis). It is a rare genetic disorder with which just over 100 people worldwide have been diagnosed.
Due to the genetic condition, his skull can thicken – an extremely dangerous state of affairs because pressure is then placed on the brain and brainstem. Facial paralysis and hearing loss are also serious side effects.
However, underachievement is few and in 2021 he not only became the youngest player to play for the Titans’ senior deaf cricket team, but the versatile 16-year-old is now also in action for Hoërskool Garsfontein’s second cricket team.
“I’m super excited to play in Qatar and can’t wait for the tournament to start. I am very proud to represent my country and I know we will do very well,” said Badenhorst.
If he has to choose, he would very much like to compete against India or England, but it is especially a duel against the Indians that excites him.
“They beat us in the Champions Cup last year. Deaf cricket helps me to observe many more things on the field with my eyes and it also gives my school cricket a definite boost.”
According to Cronjé, insufficient funds are one of the most difficult issues that deaf cricketers in South Africa have to face.
Cricket South Africa’s money tap has not been opened large enough for a long time and the players and management members must try to raise R250 000 themselves to pay for their flights to Doha.
A BackaBuddy campaign has since been launched, but Cronjé says that the players have been persuaded to make a success of their World Cup campaign.
“Everyone is pulling together to raise money and most players are willing to buy their own plane tickets. With the World Cup around the corner, we barely had enough money to hold a training camp, not to mention warm-up matches.”
Then he would also like it if deaf cricketers get a chance to showcase their skills in every cricket region of the country.
“Only Gauteng, Northern, the Western Province, Boland, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal are actively involved in deaf cricket and we would love to expand the game to the other regions as well. I am convinced that there are still talented players in South Africa that we do not know about.
“However, the players are so dedicated. They want to play and they want to win. Everyone is very committed to cultivating a winning culture.”
- The T20 World Cup for Deaf Cricketers will be decided from December 1 to 12 in Qatar.