Background: Two studies have reported that abnormal colour vision is under-represented among cricketers, presumably because cricketers with abnormal colour vision have difficulty seeing the red ball against the green grass of the cricket field and the green foliage around it. We have previously reported on the difficulties of five cricketers with abnormal colour vision but we have also reported that one of Australia's finest cricketers was a protanope. This survey was undertaken to confirm the under-representation of abnormal colour vision among cricketers and to ascertain whether those playing tend to be (1) those with a mild colour vision deficiency, (2) bowlers rather than batsman and (3) prefer to field close to the batsman rather than in the outfield.
Methods: The colour vision of 293 members of seven Melbourne Premier cricket clubs was tested using the Ishihara test. Those who failed were examined further to confirm their abnormal colour vision, to assess its severity with the Farnsworth D15 test and to classify it as either protan or deutan using the Medmont C100 test. A questionnaire about cricketing ability and problems playing cricket was administered.
Results: Twenty-six (8.9 per cent) of the cricketers had abnormal colour vision, of whom six played in the First Grade (6.7 per cent of First Grade players). The proportion of cricketers with a severe deficiency was significantly less than expected for the First Grade players. There were only two protans. Bowlers were not over-represented among the colour vision defective cricketers but those preferring to field close to the batsman were significantly over-represented.
Conclusion: Abnormal colour vision is a modest handicap to playing cricket, especially at the higher levels of the game. It may impede batting and the ability to field in the outfield.