The cricketer’s community often finds its way back to the field like a homecoming pigeon because once you have played it is very hard to let go of this game. Yu can say that veteran cricketers have always had a second inning even far after their more active career on the cricketing circuit. Lately, globally cricket has become more structured and a reconnect. As compared to the older world where it was hard to stay connected, after some effort they used to organise a bilateral series once every two or three years but now veterans’ associations are becoming better connected on a scale that is equal to the International Cricket Council itself.
The World Seniors/Veterans cricket body was formed a few years back. Since then, there has been over-50s World Cup in Australia in 2018, when Pakistan won all its group matches including against India and England and lost against Australia by only three runs in the finals. Deviced as a 45-over game, Pakistan had bowled out Australia for 166 in 44 overs with Jaffer Qureshi taking three wickets. Pakistan, after a good start, and having the likes of Ghulam Ali, Sagheer Abbas and Sajid Ali (semi-final centurion) in the line-up, collapsed to 94-9, until Babar Butt and Imtiaz Tarar made a fearless last-wicket stand that brought them so close.
The tournament held in 2020 was called off after few matches due to Covid restrictions, which Pakistan had won, and now it will take place in March next year. During September this year, Over-6os World Cup is taking place in Australia again and once again Pkaistan will be participating. Fawad Ijaz Khan, who had been the founder and the spirit behind Pakistan Veterans’ Cricket Association (PVCA) 24 years ago and also put together the Pakistan team in that Over-50s World Cup in 2018, will once again be managing this participation.
A bigger achievement by the PVCA has been that now Pakistan is honored to the hosting rights of the inaugural Over-40s World Cup and it is going to be no ordinary event, which is planned to be played in Karachi during September-October 2023. This is going to be so much more exciting as it will bring to Pakistan some recent cricketers with big names the world. From Pakistan there is the possibility of Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Hafeez and Misbah-ul-Haq. Shoaib Malik, too, if he’s not still playing for the national team!
From Australia its going to be Mike Hussey, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson. From Sri Lanka Mehela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitharan. From England there can be Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss, Freddie Flintoff and Michael Vaughan. From New Zealand, Stephen Fleming, Shane Bond, Daniel Vettori and Nathan Astle. From West Indies, Brian Lara, Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. From South Africa, Shaun Pollock, Dale Steyn, Graeme Smith, Herschelle Gibbs, Jaques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Makhaya Ntini.
The cruel question is would there be anyone from India ? The invitation would be sent for sure while remaining hopeful as Indian foreign office had no doubts about the tournament. If India comes then we are expecting Mehendra Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkur, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Mohammad Kaif, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan.
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Fawad revealed that this offer didn’t come easily. They had to do the bidding and presentations for several months, which the world body’s steering committee for the over-40s took from countries. They had already done homework on security by contacting police an agencies. PVCA is hoping to raise sponsorship to cover total expense that is foreseen because it is a big task in our economy where potential sponsors are battling high cost of doing business. It is most important that the corporate sponsors come forward for this, especially those with a relatively older customer profile for their brand and services, as some matches might be telecast live and all live-streamed definitely.