It’s been a busy international summer which has meant a necessary hiatus in my weekly column as I concentrate on commentary duties and the re-commissioned Tour Diary for SuperSport.com which, hopefully, some of you have enjoyed reading. But with just four games remaining of Australia’s brief tour, it’s time to return.
While the men’s team bounced back from their humiliation at the Wanderers to win a thrilling contest in the second T20 International against Australia at St.George’s Park, the Momentum Women’s team were led home by the nerveless Mignon du Preez in their opening T20 World Cup game against England at the WACA ground in Perth.
But there is another World Cup which is claiming at least as much of my attention and it starts in and around Cape Town on March 11 with the final at Newlands on March 24.
South Africa’s Veterans will open their Over 50s Cricket World Cup campaign against Wales at Cape Town Cricket Club on 11 March, while defending champions Australia will take on strongly fancied underdogs Zimbabwe at Claremont Cricket Club. (The Zimbabweans have, by all accounts, been training for over a month in Harare and Bulawayo.)
Favourites, India and England, face each other at Green Point CC, New Zealand will face West Indies at Rondebosch CC, while Sri Lanka tackle Canada and Pakistan face Namibia at Western Province CC.
All 12 teams will be involved on match days, during a packed schedule, which will see them play at least seven 45-over games during 13 days – eight if they reach the final of the Bowl, Plate or Cup itself.
Former Proteas and EP allrounder, Dave Callaghan, is captaining the SA Veterans after making an extraordinary recovery from knee replacement surgery just over a year ago.
“It’s going to be a great challenge and there will be some sore bodies, but we all have squads of 16, so we’ll get through – it’s part of the charm of this tournament,” Callaghan said.
Tournament organisers have scheduled the second round of matches at some of Cape Town’s most prominent cricket schools, including Rondebosch and Wynberg, the respective alma maters of Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis, as well as Bishops and Milnerton.
The third round will be played in and around the Cape Winelands of Stellenbosch and Paarl, while the proud cricketing heritage of Langa Cricket Club will be recognised with the hosting of England and Pakistan in round five, as well as two play-off fixtures.
The SA squad will be coached by Allan Donald – (who would have played were it not for a mountain-bike induced shoulder injury) and includes former Proteas internationals Louis Koen, Pieter Strydom, Henry Williams and Alan Dawson.
Australia are the defending Over-50 champions, having defeated Pakistan by just three runs in a tense final in Sydney in 2018.
The tournament caught my imagination for a number of reasons, chief amongst them my own age (52) and the very smart sponsorship by Evergreen Lifestyle Villages. When I was in my 30s I thought cricketers should spare themselves in their 50s and take up something more appropriate bowls, golf or dog-walking. I feel very differently now.
It turns out that if 50-year-olds are giving any thought to retirement residences, it is for their parents. But it’s a clever way to generate interest now and may well be a brilliant, long-term strategy for the years ahead. When I volunteered to assist the organisers with their media for the event, I associated ‘retirement homes’ with nurses and frail care. Not tennis courts, swimming pools, clubhouses and secure independence. If this reads like an advertorial, so be it. It’s true.
The tournament caught my attention first but was closely followed by the sponsor. Cricket is struggling for sponsors but here is one that has found a niche.
If you happen to be in Cape Town and fancy watching a game, entrance is free and the full fixture list can be found on the website below. The first round of matches takes place just four days after the Australians leave our shores.
SA Over 50s Squad:
Dave Callaghan (Captain), Louis Koen, Alan Dawson, Pieter Strydom, Kenny Jackson, Dave Holgate, Anwell Newman, Neil Fusedale, Rodney Malamba, Mlungisi ‘Lefty’ Ngece, Dave Duncan, Bruce Wilson, Warne Rippon, Brad Player, Nazeem White and Henry Williams.
Coach: Allan Donald. Manager: Roy Meeser. Physio: Marc Naidoo.
Facebook: Over-50s World Cup: www.facebook.com/o50scricketworldcup
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to get in touch.