158 off 69 balls: vision-impaired cricketer Oscar Stubbs smashes batting record

Vision-impaired cricketer Oscar Stubbs sees the ball through pinholes due to his eye condition, but batted as though he was seeing it like a beachball while setting a stunning record at the National Cricket Inclusion Championships.

The 22-year-old NSW blind or vision impaired vice-captain made an all-time NCIC record 158 not out off just 69 deliveries against Tasmania/ACT this week in Brisbane.

He combined for an unbroken NCIC record partnership of 307 with captain Lindsay Heaven (124no), in what teammates are calling a “match made in heaven” combination.

The 22-year-old Cricket NSW employee, who idolises Australian and NSW batter Steve Smith, played able-bodied cricket until he finished school.

“Then I took up blind cricket and I’ve been playing ever since,” he told AAP. “With my sight, since birth I have a thing called optic neuropathy where the nerves from my brain to my eyes aren’t computing properly and aren’t getting the same message everybody else would normally get.

“For my vision that means I look through pinholes, so the vision around my pinhole vision is all a bit of a blur.”

What he sees through the pinholes makes it hard to see the ball.

“The vision I have in the pinholes is 6/60 which means if someone can see something at 60 metres I have to be six metres away to see it as well,” he said. “It means when a bowler is bowling you can’t pick the ball up out of the hand.”

The sun can also impact his sight but it is an obstacle he has overcome, as he did in his whirlwind knock.

“It makes it a little bit harder than the average human but we have learnt to deal with it for a long, long time,” he said. “That was my first century for NSW. I was very stoked, and it was cool to get the record with one of my best mates Lindsay Heaven.

“Playing blind cricket has given me a lot of opportunities and being able to represent my state was massive. We hadn’t had Australian representative stuff for a couple of years due to Covid and last year we had our first Australian tour of India at the World Cup. To don the yellow and green was really special.”

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Stubbs said his next goal was to make the Australian side to compete in Birmingham this year in an international tournament.

The NCIC include 16 teams from their states and territories in three divisions including blind or low vision, deaf and hard of hearing and cricketers with an intellectual disability in a T20 format.

Stubbs is a multi-sport para-athlete who represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022. He came fifth in the 50m freestyle Para-Sport S13 final, just 90 minutes after being cleared from Covid-19 isolation after falling ill at a pre-tournament camp in France.

He also has played blind Australian rules football for St Kilda and Western Bulldogs.


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