In the middle of the Bangladesh team's training session at Nelson Park in Napier yesterday, two locals came up and sat just outside the fence to observe the players.
Before long it became evident that both were blind but their love for cricket was visible through their body language as they eagerly tried to get a sense of the Tigers' activities.
Helen Wilson and Glein Erwin are actually two cricketers of the Hawks Bay Blind Sports Club in Napier. When they learned that New Zealand would play the first of three ODIs against Bangladesh at McLean Park today, they realised that there must be a mandatory practice session for the visitors ahead of the game and came to catch the action.
Helen, a big fan of Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, asked this reporter to introduce her to his favourite Bangladesh player. “You know, I am also a bowler and I bowled two maiden overs on the trot in a recent game. I am a huge fan of Mashrafe and also a big cricket lover; I heard that he has undergone seven surgeries in his career so far and is still playing.”
Helen then showed a scar on her feet, perhaps indicating that like Mashrafe she is also tough enough, before her favourite Tiger finally came to her and greeted her with a smile.
When Helen learned that Mashrafe was elected as a member of parliament recently, she reacted with awe. “I have never heard of any current international cricketer who is also a member of parliament at the same time. He must be a great leader both on and off the field and it's fantastic,” Helen said.
Glein, who was quiet initially, then opened up and shared his knowledge of the Bangladeshi players. “I know two players from the Bangladesh team -- Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim -- and both are your best players, right? I think they [Bangladesh] have the ability to play well and even win a game here against us,” said Glein.
The duo may have felt that they were fortunate to be close to some international cricketers, but it really was the rest of the people at the ground who were being treated to cricket's power to unite. Even for the two blind spectators, listening to the sweet sound of ball hitting bat and meeting their favourite Bangladesh players was enough to have a good day out.