Brisbane: Australian blind cricketer Steffan Nero blasted a record-shattering unbeaten off 140 balls against New Zealand in the International Cricket Inclusion Series to guide the hosts to a 270-run victory.
Nero’s monumental effort is the highest score for visually impaired cricketers in limited-overs matches, improving on the previous world record of 262 not out, set by Pakistan’s Masood Jan at the 1998 Blind Cricket World Cup.
During a three-hour batting masterclass, the opening batter smashed 49 fours and a six, the first of the series, to help Australia register a whopping team total of 542/2 off 40 overs, said a report by Fox News.
In their reply, the Kiwis were bundled out for 272, with Nero completing five run-outs as wicketkeeper.
Nero became the eighth Australian to score a triple century across all formats, joining an illustrious list of cricket greats including Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke, and David Warner, the report said.
“It’s the first time I’ve played an ODI in a while,” he was quoted as saying by News Corp. “It got difficult at stages. There were times when I was getting quite tired, mentally as well, and I thought I was going to get out.”
“For any fully-sighted cricketer to bat for that amount of overs is tough, for blind cricketers, we use so much more energy to concentrate — the glare becomes a big factor as well. I was really well supported by the other boys and I definitely didn’t do it alone. People around me were just telling me to push. I was that knackered but kept finding it in me to keep pushing,” he added.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet but as the days and weeks pass, I think I’ll realise what an achievement it is.”
Nero has congenital nystagmus, meaning his brain does not receive a clear message of what his eyes are seeing.
He has already struck two centuries earlier in the tournament and the unbeaten 309 takes his series batting average to a whopping 523.00, giving him a mind-boggling strike rate of 224.5.
The Australian blind cricketers’ team is playing five T20 and three one-day international matches against New Zealand, with the series scheduled to conclude on Friday, said the report.
This edition of the International Cricket Inclusion series marks the first time blind, deaf and intellectual disability teams have played international cricket since 2018. Matches in 2020 and 2021 were called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.