By LAURA MACINTOSH
The itinerary of Mark Haskett’s visit to Fiji as an Ambassador of Cricket Fiji’s Inclusive Cricket Program has been finalised.
During part one of Cricket Fiji’s Inclusive Cricket Roadshow, Mark and the Inclusive Cricket Team will visit Nadi Special School and Sigatoka Speciall School on Tuesday 13th August. The Inclusive Cricket Fiji team will also visit Sunshine Special School and Lautoka Special School for clinics prior to Mark’s arrival on Monday 12th August.
On Wednesday 14th August Mark and the Inclusive Cricket Fiji Team will attend the Suva Special School Sports Day, hosted and run by Suva Special School, and Thursday 15th August will see Mark and the team visit the Fiji School for the Blind, as well as the much-anticipated emotional return to Nausori’s Dilkusha Children’s Home, Mark’s home before his adoption and move to Australia aged six.
On Friday 16th August Cricket Fiji will host the Special Schools’ Family Gala Day, with which Mark will assist in announcing the inaugural Cricket Fiji Inclusive Cricket All-Stars Team.
Mark will return to Australia on Sunday 18th August.
Mark says he has many personal and well as cricketing-related objectives he hopes to achieve in his return visit to Fiji. In terms of cricket he hopes to inspire more Fijians to take up the game he loves, and inspire them to do so no matter what level of ability they may have. On a more personal note, he is hoping that his return to Dilkusha Children’s Home in Nausori, the placed he called home until he was six years old, will bring back some memories of where it all began.
Mark is a member of the Australian Blind Cricket team, and also captain of the South Australian Blind Cricket Team. He was born with poor vision, but now after several surgeries to remove cataracts, and due to obtaining detached retinas through playing contact sport as a teenager, Mark is left with 4% vision in his right eye, and 3% vision in his left.
Blind Cricket has three categories of vision impairment; B3, where participants have 5-10% visions, B2, 1-5% vision, and B1, which is no vision at all, merely light perception. Mark’s category is B2.
Due to the incredible level of skill cricketers are required to have in terms of their hand-eye coordination, the mainstream rules of the game have been modified for Blind Cricket, to ensure that the global game truly can be played by all. The size of the playing field is reduced, and also the ball used has bottle tops and metal washers inside to assist the batsman in anticipating it’s approach. The bowler must bowl underarm and the ball must bounce twice before reaching the batsman’s crease.
Mark’s cricketing career, which has so far spanned fourteen years, includes highlights such as being named in four All-Australian teams, winning B2 Player of the Tournament in the 2011/12 Australian Championships, representing Australia at two Blind Cricket World Cups, and being a part of the team that brought home The Ashes urn in 2012. However, one moment Mark says he will never forget is receiving his Baggy Green cap on debut against New Zealand at Bankstown in Sydney in 2006.