ZIMBABWE’s visually-impaired cricket commentator Dean du Plessis has decided to quit his job, citing frustration due to lack of opportunities for disabled people.BY HENRY MHARA
Du Plessis, who describes himself as the world’s first blind cricket commentator, announced his decision at a function held at the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) to publicise the fundraising committee set up to mobilise funds for the 10th national Paralympic Games to be held in Bindura next month.
He is part of a 15-member committee led by Judith Kamba, tasked with raising part of the over $400 000 needed for the successful hosting of the Games.
Giving his presentation at the function, Du Plessis said he had decided to walk away from cricket and sport in general due to lack of appreciation despite the unique talent he possesses.
“I would like to say that as a person who has lived with disability since the day I was born, I still find it very hard to make my presence known and for people to understand that I’m just a normal human being,” he said. “A lot of people like to hear my story on how I commentate cricket, but that is far as it goes. Nobody has actually approached me to employ me as a full-time cricket journalist, which is why after this conclusion, I will no longer be part of any sport or cricket pretty much ever again. Because after 15-and-half-years, I have come to realise that (getting formally employed) is not going to happen.”
Du Plessis manages to commentate cricket by hearing the power and direction of the hit. He listens to the speed and spin of the ball, along with the players’ exertions and their cries of elation or frustration. He senses the excitement – or otherwise – of the play on the cricket field and collates the scores with a computer-like memory.
His acute sense of hearing and his eavesdropping on other commentators helps him overcome the fact that he is blind, producing a delivery so polished that most listeners are unaware that he can’t see. He said disabled athletes should be given equal treatment with their able-bodied counterparts.
“People please understand these Paralympians do phenomenal stuff and deserve to be treated as equal athletes. It’s very sad to see, for example, a million dollars given to a soccer team which goes to a tournament and they bring back no medal. We see our Paralympians putting everything they have on the line, with all the problems they have to live with, bringing home medals. But the athletes and their medals are pretty much swept under the carpet. It doesn’t mean because you are disabled, you have an inability. I was born with two tumours behind both my rectus. I was given three to five months to live, but I have just celebrated my 40th birthday.”