Keswick Cricket Club sits in the beautiful Fitz Park. Trees surround most of the field. A few miles to the east are green and brown fells. There’s a blue sky with just a few white clouds.

Some of the players in an unusual Cumbria v Yorkshire fixture are unable to see any of this. But they can still play the game they love.

Every summer since 2014, Keswick has hosted a blind cricket match. This is a demonstration game intended to raise the sport’s profile in Cumbria and encourage blind and partially sighted people to take it up.

The sixth instalment took place this week. I was on the Cumbria team. My recent purchase of reading glasses does not qualify me as blind. While every Yorkshire player was blind or partially sighted, several of the Cumbria team were fully sighted. They were here to support visually impaired family members or just to see - if that’s the right word - what the sport is like.

This annual match is organised by Cockermouth umpire Doug Beebe, who enjoys helping visually impaired people to be involved in sport.

Those of us with decent vision had to wear glasses which removed that advantage, to varying degrees. I chose a pair whose lenses were almost totally covered with tape. There was a pinhole in the left lens. In the right lens were two tiny areas I could partly see through: one at the top and one at the bottom.

Wearing these would give me an insight into being visually impaired. And so would talking to some people who really are visually impaired.

Before the game started I spoke to two Yorkshire players. John Garbett is development officer with Blind Cricket England and Wales. Steve Bailey is captain of Dorset Dolphins. He had travelled from Bournemouth to be here.

The challenge of hitting a cricket ball is nothing compared with the challenges of everyday life. John was fully sighted until about 15 years ago, when he was 30. “I have a degenerative eye condition. It closed in slowly. I went for an eye test. There was just a tiny hole I could see. You move your head to fill in the gaps. Now I just get bits of light and shapes close up.

“I worked on the railways. I was pensioned off. You want to be independent but you need to know when you need help. I’ve been down flights of steps using a cane but not using it properly. Bang - black and blue.”

John is hoping to help set up a Cumbria team to join the national network. This would require more young players. Steve has previously made the long journey to the county to hold coaching sessions.

John says blind cricket is about much more than scoring runs and taking wickets. “It’s there for anybody of any age and ability to play at their level, whether it’s a knockabout or they take it more seriously. It’s the social aspect as well. It helps people get out and about. They exercise and they’re integrating.”

Many players, including these two, played mainstream cricket until having a rock-hard ball thrown at them became too dangerous. The blind version uses a football filled with pellets which rattle when the ball moves.

John and Steve agree that blind cricket is easier for those who have played the conventional version. “You can visualise,” said John. “I can remember how everything is.”

“How do you coach people that have never seen cricket?” said Steve. “Communication is a big thing. It’s all done by listening and people telling you where the ball is.”

Steve has an eye condition which is reducing his sight, although he can see more than John.

At least four of the 11 players in each team during an official match must be totally blind. Everyone must have no more than 50 per cent vision. It’s difficult to have teams whose total vision is identical.

This game was taking place just two days after England’s World Cup final win over New Zealand. John and Steve both heard the dramatic finale on the radio after playing during the afternoon.

Steve said: “When I came out to bat, the umpire said ‘What’s the score?’ I said ‘I’m not particularly bothered right now. I’m trying to get 19 off this over!’”

It was time for our match. I put the glasses on and walked carefully towards the wicket, peering through the hazy sliver of light at the bottom of the right lens. I hadn’t played cricket since my school days, and I was bad enough when I could see the ball.

The announcer said some words I’d never expected to hear: “Opening for Cumbria are Poppy Schofield and Roger Lytollis.”

I was first to bat. Yorkshire’s wicket-keeper standing behind me tried a bit of mild sledging. “Don’t worry about sunburn,” he said. “You won’t be out here very long.”

The rules are based on cricket’s standard laws with some important differences.

For example: the ball has to bounce at least twice when bowled to a completely blind batsman. A totally blind fielder can make a catch after the ball has bounced once.

Before beginning their run-up, the bowler must ask the batsman if they are ready.

“Batsman, ready?” came a shout.

“Ready!” I replied.

It reminded me of Gladiators: “Contenders, ready?” Hopefully no one was about to hit me with a giant cotton bud.

The wicket-keeper shouted “Stump! Stump! Stump!” to help the bowler locate the wicket.

The bowler began his run-up and shouted “Play!” to warn me that he was about to release the ball.

I could see the bowler through the sliver in my lens. But as he threw the ball it vanished from my tiny field of vision.

My head lurched up and down as I tried to find it, to no avail. The rattle didn’t help much: I’m not used to relying on sound. I swung my bat and missed. Thankfully the ball missed the wicket.

I managed to glimpse the next ball as it bounced. I swung, made a slight connection, and heard “Howzat!” I’d been caught out, second ball.

As I prepared to walk, the umpire intervened. He judged that the bowler’s shout of “Play!” had come after the ball was released. I lived to fight another day. Well, another minute or two.

With the next ball I made decent contact and ran, carefully, towards the opposite wicket. I presumed Poppy was running towards my wicket, but all I could see was a small patch of ground.

A player who really had this little vision would have a partially sighted team-mate doing their running.

I didn’t see the next ball at all. I swung, connected, and heard “Howzat!” This time there was no reprieve.

Scoring one run and being caught twice off four balls might not be an innings Ben Stokes would be proud of. But I was just pleased that I’d managed to hit the ball.

I removed my glasses. The trees, the whitewashed pavilion - the world - came back. This had been a useful exercise in being partially sighted. My admiration for those who live like this all the time had increased. So had my appreciation for the gift of sight.

Graham Hewitt from Little Broughton was here with his 16-year-old son, Aaron. Aaron was born blind due to an eye condition called LCA. They come here every year. “It makes you more aware of what it’s like to be in their shoes,” said Graham.

He then went into bat, forming a good partnership with Poppy. The Yorkshire team fielded impressively, guided by the sound of the ball and each other’s shouts.

I had to leave before the end. Next day I spoke to John Garbett to find out the result. Yorkshire had clinched victory in the final over, by one run.

“The same as the World Cup final, we needed 15 runs in the last over,” he said. “There was no need for a Super Over.”

n To contact Blind Cricket England and Wales, email