Blindness, no barrier for Prof Frederick Raffle
But take a closer look and you would realise that Raffle is blind. Yesterday was a special day for Raffle after England’s 10-wicket victory on Day Four — their second Test victory in India since 1985.
Raffle might not be able to see Cook and Kevin Pietersen’s fabulous tons, Monty Panesar’s 11-wicket match haul and emphatic celebration from Cook and Nick Compton after levelling the series 1-1, but he would surely take back a lot of happy memories of the Wankhede Test.
Raffle, 73, is seated on Level Three of Divecha Pavilion with his earphones plugged in to a radio, listening to the match commentary. He would celebrate England batsmen’s fours and sixes a fraction of a second later than the other fans. Raffle would know an England wicket has fallen whenever Indian fans roared. Immediately, he would take out his recorder and describe the fall of the wicket. “I do it because when I go back home, I can listen to it, feel the atmosphere and recollect the memories of my tour,” Raffle tells MiD DAY.
The India-England series is Raffle’s 25th cricketing tour and the second one to India after the 2006 series here. “I have followed the England team wherever they have played,” he says with a lot of pride.
If he follows the game on radio, then why travel all the way? “I would not travel earlier, but I wanted to have a feel of it. So, that is how I started travelling with the team,” says Raffle, a resident of Sunderland.
Raffle, who is a professor of psychology in disability, is probably as much of a fixture at England games as the Barmy Army, but he has another thing to boast of over other fans.
“I have been accompanied to the toilet by six ex-captains of the England cricket team. Sometimes I have accompanied them even as they enter the ground with no accreditation or anything of that sort. They have been very kind,” says Raffle.
How? “During one of the tours, there was no radio commentary. So, I requested my friend in Sky Television that I needed to listen to some commentary. So, he made me sit inside the commentary box that had the legends of England cricket.
“So, most of the times you would find me sitting with them, but since the last couple of series, I decided to sit in the stands as it gives you the real feel of the match,” says Raffle.