1isihara colour blindCan red-green colour-blind people play cricket?

Whilst grumbling to myself about the end of play (due to light) last night, a thought sud­denly occurred to me — with a red ball and a green pitch, can red-green col­our-blind people play crick­et successfully?

I can­’t ima­gine why bowl­ers would be too badly effected, but bat­ting and field­ing could prove more dif­fi­cult.  With a sight-screen any dif­fi­culties should be reduced, and a lot of catches in the field have the sky as a back­drop, but there will still be occa­sions where the ball must be more dif­fi­cult to pick out.  So, are many of the play­ers at the highest level col­our-blind?  It appears that the Aus­trali­ans have beaten me to it, and already done the hard graft to provide an answer to this ques­tion.  The con­clu­sion: at most levels col­our-blind people are rep­res­en­ted in line with their num­ber in the pop­u­la­tion (around 10%), but at the very highest levels there are almost no col­our-blind people at all (Bill Ponsford may be an excep­tion to the rule.  This Aus­sie legend played 29 test matches at an aver­age of 48).  It seems that at the very highest levels being col­our-blind is a sig­ni­fic­ant imped­i­ment.  At all levels, play­ers with col­our-blind­ness found it dif­fi­cult to see the ball across the grass and ten­ded to avoid mid and deep field­ing pos­i­tions — cap­tains take note!  Oth­er stud­ies have shown that col­our-blind bats­men are not sig­ni­fic­antly affected, for example hav­ing an aver­age play­ing with a white ball no dif­fer­ent from their aver­age with the red ball.

So, it seems that whilst we’re not likely to find many col­our-blind inter­na­tion­al test play­ers, if you’re col­our-blind and want to get down to the loc­al club on a week­end, go and get stuck in!  You could also invest in a pair of Oxy-Iso glasses, which appar­ently enhance reds and greens!

I should also say, there are sev­er­al dif­fer­ent con­di­tions that fall under the blanket name “red-green col­our-blind”, namely protan­op­ia, deu­ter­an­op­ia, protan­om­aly, and deu­ter­an­om­aly.  If you think you may have one of these con­di­tions but haven’t been dia­gnosed, please speak to your doc­tor (before or after the game) — we’re a crick­et­ing web­site not a med­ic­al one!

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gravatarDavid Cook

The pink ball appears grey/blue in red/green defi­cient vis­ion, depend­ing on its sever­ity. I did a sim­u­la­tion with col­our blind­ness soft­ware where the ball almost dis­ap­peared against a blue sky. The depth of blue also var­ies through­out the world. The RAF real­ised this dur­ing the war when they needed dif­fer­ent blue cam­ou­flage shades depend­ing where their recon­nais­sance Spit­fires were oper­at­ing. They also found that in cer­tain even­ing and morn­ing light the sky can take on a dis­tinct pink tinge, and in these cir­cum­stances painted the Spit­fires pink, so there could be prob­lems for crick­eters with nor­mal vis­ion pick­ing up a pink ball in the sky in cer­tain light. White balls are OK, and yel­low, but not orange for same reas­on as red.