One World Cup we can win

It is becoming increasingly hard for top cricketers to create a successful career for themselves outside the game, certainly as far as a career in business is concerned. Some administrators are former players and there are always opportunities in coaching and the media for ex-players.

And then, of course, there are the exceptions. On the wall of his office in Cape Town there are a few team photographs of Western Province in the early ’90s, and it was quite a line-up. Adrian Kuiper, Brian McMillan, Eric Simons, Lawrence Seef, three Kirstens, Meyrick Pringle, a very, very young looking Jacques Kallis (with a full head of wavy hair), Dave Rundle…the list of big names seemed endless, and they all seemed to be internationals.

“We could give the Cobras a damn good run for their money today,” said the man sipping a coffee behind his desk. “Well, you’d need to give some of us a month or so to get ready,” he said breathing in deeply and tucking his shirt in, “but I’m serious – Kuips and Brian Mac still play club cricket, as does Eric. And the rest of us could catch them up.”

It was a truly intriguing thought. The underperforming Cobras certainly haven’t covered themselves in glory this year…but could a team of 40 and 45-year-olds really challenge them? I suspect they could. Given the right reason and motivation, a professional sportsman never loses his competitive streak.

A couple of days later there was reason to talk to Gary Kirsten and Eric Simons, on different subjects. But neither could keep the obvious sound of buzzing anticipation out of their voice and it wasn’t long before the topic of Bermuda came up.

Both have been selected in the South Africa over-35 squad for the “20-20 World Cricket Classic” event to be staged on the sub-tropical island paradise later this month between April 22nd and 29th. In case you should feel inclined to scoff, ask yourself whether you would be interested in the prospect of Colin Croft bowling to Clive Rice. Or Joel Garner to Adrian Kuiper. Or Hugh Page to Aravinda De Silva. And if that doesn’t intrigue you, how about the sight of Arjuna Ranatunga and Steven Jack trying to fit into the standard issue playing kit? (Apparently, to be fair, ‘Charger’ has been on quite a fitness drive.)

Clive and Sue Rice have organised the South African team’s preparations and travel arrangements and the event wants for nothing in terms of exposure and funding with the Get Fit Foundation (GEFF) underwriting it to the tune of US$1 million.

The itinerary includes an opening a closing ceremony, beach parties and dancing every night (which Meyrick Pringle will obviously be avoiding), a golf tournament on the ‘rest day’, a Street Party with ‘Bermudiana’ music and Gala Banquet to close on the final night. Players wives or partners are also invited and accommodation will be provided at the five-star “Fairmont Southampton” resort. Wow!

The Classic England team boast the most international players although, with the main selection criteria stipulating that every squad member must have represented his country in some official capacity, there is no shortage of big names. And every team, it seems, has made certain they have a couple of fit 36-year-olds to complement the more senior members of the squad.

“We’ve got Gary to do all the hard running and fielding in the covers,” says Simons, “and Crookesy will take over when he’s knackered.”

As far as wives and partners are concerned, there are different things to worry about. A Pre-tournament advice letter makes it absolutely clear that telephone calls from the hotel are astronomically expensive and that scooters are available for hire but that the country’s 35 km/h speed limit is strictly enforced. And that topless sunbathing is strictly banned.

With Ricey in charge, I think this is one World Cup South Africa really can win. If he can get Meyrick to bed early enough.

ENGLAND

Neil Foster, Robin Smith, Bill Athey, David Capel, Alan Wells, Phil Defreitas, Chris Lewis, Ian Austin, Graham Lloyd, David Smith, Neal Radford, Peter Such, Paul Jarvis

NEW ZEALAND

Dipak Patel, Phil Horne, Mark Douglas, Trevor Franklin, Mark Bailey, Gavin Larsen, Simon Doull, Grant Bradburn, Danny Morrison, Chris Harris, Murphy Su’a, Mark Haslam, Tony Blain

SRI LANKA

Glucka Wijesuriya, Aravinda De Silva, Sanjaya Ranatunga, Sidath Wettimuny, Asanka Gurusinghe, Chandika Hathurusingha, Arjuna Ranatunga, Kumar Dharmasena, Ruwan Kalpage, Champaka Ramanayake, Athula Samarasekera, Romesh Ratnayake, Keerthi Ranasinghe

WEST INDIES

John Shepherd, Joel Garner, Sherwin Campbell, Stuart Williams, Collis King, Richie Richardson, Colin Croft, Robert Haynes, Roland Holder, Nehemiah Perry, Thelston Payne, Kenny Benjamin, Carlisle Best

SOUTH AFRICA

Clive Rice, Pieter Strydom, Hugh Page, Steven Jack, Fanie De Villiers, Eric Simons, Gary Kirsten, Mark Rushmere, Faiek Davids, Derek Crookes, Meyrick Pringle, Baboo Ebrahim, Adrian Kuiper

INDIA

Rudra Singh, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Subroto Banerjee, Venkatesh Prasad, Saba Karim, Abey Kuruvilla, Robin Singh, Chandu Pandit, Rajesh Chauhan, Prashant Vaidya, Narendra Hirwani, Atul Wassan

AUSTRALIA

Peter Sleep, Ian Healy, Rick Darling, Wayne Clark, Rodney Hogg, Greg Blewett, Wayne Phillips, Shaun Graf, Damien Fleming, Ryan Campbell, Ray Bright

BERMUDA

Gus Logie/Elvin James, Clay Smith, Janeiro Tucker, Dwayne Leverock, OJ Pitcher, Delyone Borden, Saleem Mukuddem, Irving Romaine, Dean Minors, Lionel Cann, Kevin Hurdle, Hasan Durham, Ryan Steede

 

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