Stirling Hamman came up with the idea in the back of a taxi. On a cricket tour in Trinidad, the Australian, heavily involved in veterans cricket in New South Wales, wondered whether there might be an appetite for an Over-50s World Cup.
It had never been done before but Hamman knew that veterans cricket was a growing force within the amateur game in a number of countries. The interest was almost certainly there, he thought, but could he make it a reality?
Now, eighteen months later, eight squads from Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Wales have assembled in Sydney ready for a 34-game tournament that takes place over three weeks at a number of New South Wales club ovals.
It has taken a lot of work to set things up, most of it by Hamman himself, but on the eve of the tournament, the Australian’s hope is that the cricket showcases the enjoyment, fairness and respect which he says are key themes of veterans cricket.
Pakistan are facing New Zealand in their opening game of the inaugural Over-50s Cricket World Cup in Sydney, Australia on Wednesday.
The first-of-its-kind tournament is hosting eight veteran teams from around the world: Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Canada and Wales.
Each team will play seven matches on a single league basis and the top four teams will qualify for the semi-finals.
Former Test cricketer Ejaz Ahmed is leading the Pakistan team, while former ODI player Ghulam Ali is his deputy. Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) CEO Ashiq Hussain Qureshi is the manager of the team.
This will not be the first international cricket to be played at over-50 level. There have been various informal tours and series – although there is some debate as to when the first official veterans international match took place – but this will be the first World Cup.
Although it is not an official ICC tournament, the competition has been given approval by Cricket Australia and Belinda Clarke, former Australian international, will attend the opening ceremony on their behalf. Another former Test cricketer, Trevor Chappell, the tournament’s ambassador, will also be there.
Pakistan’s first game is against New Zealand today. They will next play against Wales on Thursday, before facing South Africa on November 25. The team will take on Sri Lanka on November 26.
Pakistan will face hosts Australia on November 28, Canada on November 29, and England on December 2.
The semi-finals will be played on December 3.
Pakistan Squad: Ejaz Ahmed (Captain), Ghulam Ali (Vice-Captain), Shahid Anwar, Ghaffar Kazmi, Dastgir Butt, Babar Altaf Butt, Aamir Tauseef, Javed Hafeez, Imtiaz Ahmed, Jaffar Qureshi, Asim Jah, Sagheer Abbas, Asif Hayat, Sajid Ali, Mazhar Hussain, Zafar Ali.