Passion mingles with verve as veterans take to the field for Over 50s World Cup

Indian players from across the globe to participate in second edition of tournament at Cape Town in March 2020

Shishir Hattangadi missed the bus when it came to playing for India in flannels in the highly competitive world of international cricket.

Raised at St. Mary’s High School, ISC, the right hander got a dream start to his first-class career, opening the innings for Bombay with Sunil Gavaskar in a Ranji Trophy match against Maharashtra in October 1981. He remained a fixture in the team for 11 seasons, scored 3,722 in 60 matches for Bombay, Rest of India and West Zone with 10 centuries and 21 half-centuries.

Any other opening batsman would have probably made the India cut; he even made a very impressive 63 against an Australian attack that had speedsters Craig McDermott and Bruce Reid. But the selectors were not enthused seeing Mr. Hattangadi’s bright knock at Gwalior in the warm-up match between Bombay and Australia in 1986. Two years later, he played for West Zone against New Zealand and fell to a Richard Hadlee 9-for-55 spell in Rajkot.

Not playing for India would remain his regret, but even after retiring, the Bombay boy’s passion for cricket remains undiminished. Just the other day at the C.K. Nayudu Hall, Cricket Club of India, Mr. Hattangadi was introducing a 15-member cricket team drawn largely from U.K. and also from India, U.S., Australia, France and Dubai. A handful of them have played first-class cricket in India and the others, Club cricket in England and Scotland.

Mr. Hattangadi was excited at being the emcee and lavished praise on the extraordinary passion demonstrated by the select ‘Indian’ team. “I won’t call them the Indian team, it’s a team of Indians. They are trying to fulfil their dream of representing India (in the over 50s Cricket World Cup in Cape Town in March 2020). I saw them at the selection trials at the Parsi Gymkhana,” said Mr. Hattangadi.

The Over 50s will be played by the national teams of Australia, New Zealand, England, South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka and India. Australia won the title two years ago.

Former Mumbai all-rounder, Iqbal Khan — who played under-19 matches for India, 26 first-class matches for Mumbai, eight for Assam, one for East Zone in the Duleep Trophy — is the most experienced cricketer. He is settled in West Yorkshire and plays in the competitive Bradford League.

The members of the team, from Mumbai, are Shailendra Singh (54); Mayank Khandwala (56); Tushar Jhaveri (51) and Aadil Chagla (58).

Among the others, are Parak Ananta, Paris (54); Ashwani Arora, Bengaluru (51); Preetinder Singh, Buckinghamshire, England (52); P.G. Sunder, Dubai, U.A.E. (50); Pradeep Patel, West Yorkshire, England (51); Verinder Bhoombla, Kent, England (53); Thomas George, Sydney, Australia (53); Sanjay Beri, U.K. (56); Deepak Chadha, Boston, U.S. (50); Dilip Chavan, Boston, U.S. (51); Srikanth Satya, Seattle, U.S. (54).

The captain, brand guru Mr. Singh of Percept Holdings, has played quality cricket in Scotland and Mumbai. “We could not have asked for a better composition of energetic veterans to do the country proud,” said a visibly happy Mr. Singh. “Each player brings with him decades of experience in the field of cricket as well as life, which contributes to building a strong team with the right attitude. The adrenaline is running high.”

The initiative was taken by Sydney-based Ajoy Roy, president, India Over 50s Association, and Canada-based Arun Taploo. Mr. Roy was part of the inaugural event in Sydney in 2018. India being the soul of world cricket, cannot be absent from the second edition of the Over 50s, he said. India did not have a team for the inaugural event.

Mr. Hattangadi was touched by the enthusiasm and energy demonstrated by the team, which spent money to take part in the four-day trials. “You know, Ashwani Arora takes 120 wickets in league cricket in England, bowling chinaman (left-arm unorthodox spin). He is brilliant.”

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