YOU HAD to see it to believe it.

Cricket for the blind, unheard of in this part of the world, was introduced to Barbados with resounding success yesterday.

The England team, who placed third at the Blind World Cup in India last December, met a side comprising Barbadian celebrities and displayed immense skills before an appreciative crowd at Queen's Park.

In the end, they lost by 83 runs against a team that included outstanding former West Indies players Senator Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge and Joel Garner, along with current Barbados players Courtney Browne and Floyd Reifer.

A woman in the crowd suggested the locals should have been blindfolded, but take nothing away from the effort of the Englishmen.

For obvious reasons, the equipment used and some of the rules are different from the traditional game, but some of the basic techniques remain the same (see accompanying box).

One of the major differences is use of a plastic ball which makes a noise so that batsmen and fielders can hear it as it approaches. Another is that bowlers must bowl under-arm.

The sliding save is widely used by international cricketers, and it has been mastered by Nathan Foye, a totally blind player, who won the Most Valuable Player award at the Blind World Cup.

Foye repeatedly threw himself on the rough Queen's Park outfield to make quality saves.

He also boasts of the world record score of 232, but did not have much of a chance to show his mettle as a batsman after a teammate, acting as his runner, was run out.

Another player who created a big impression was the versatile Heindrich Swanepoel, a silver medallist in the javelin at the Paralympic Games.

Swanepoel, who opened both the batting and bowling, hit the topscore of 22 that included a swing through mid-wicket for four off Garner and also enjoyed the huge satisfaction of dismissing Haynes, the Celebrities' captain.

The former West Indies opening batsman was bowled attempting a reverse sweep, and as he made his way back to the pavilion, he banged his bat and gloves into the ground.

When asked how he felt, Haynes was speechless.

When he finally overcame his disappointment, he paid glowing tribute to what was displayed.

"This is amazing. The effort these guys are putting in is something else.

"I believe Nathan Foye can field for Barbados. There is no question about it. One might think he can field for West Indies, but I wouldn't venture that far. The effort was tremendous."

Haynes' former long-time West Indies opening partner Gordon Greenidge played superbly and used the reverse sweep and orthodox sweep with telling effect on the way to making the joint topscore of 37 before he was bowled as he charged down the pitch to Brinley Reynolds, a partially-blind player.

The dismissals of the two former West Indies openers will be long remembered by the Englishmen, said captain Adam Benjamin.

"I play cricket in England in our domestic league in North London. We always go to the pub afterwards and I can tell you the conversation next summer in the pub is going to be Desmond Haynes - bowled Swanepoel. Gordon Greendige - bowled Reynolds," Benjamin said.

The match attracted a good crowd which included members of the Barbados Blind team, who would have learnt a few lessons ahead of their clash with England on Sunday at the Police Sports Club, Weymouth.

One of the highlights was the ball-by-ball commentary of Andrew Pilgrim. The attorney-at-law, cum emcee, cum commentator, entertained everyone with his humorous descriptions and his imitations of several distinguished personalities.

Summarised scores: Barbados Celebrities 161-6 in 25 overs (Philo Wallace 37 retired, Gordon Greenidge 37, Courtney Browne 32 retired, Ryan Nurse 24 retired, Floyd Reifer 13). England Blind Cricketers 78 in 23.2 overs (Heindrich Swanepoel 22; Roland Holder 4-11). Barbados Celebrities won by 83 runs.