By Richard Edwards
23 January 2023
It’s never too late to
dream of international honours – and now a generation of 40 somethings could
find themselves with something extra to play for when the season begins in just
a couple of months’ time.
Earlier in January, the Over-40s and Over-50s International
Steering Committee announced the introduction of a World Cup for the former age
The move followed the inaugural Over-50 tournament, held in Australia in 2018. The second edition of the competition was hosted by Cape Town two years later.
Now, those involved in the recreational game who might have thought the chance of an England cap had passed them by, have the opportunity to represent their country in Karachi in September.
The truly global tournament is likely to feature teams from Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Canada, USA, Zimbabwe, Wales, Namibia, and the UAE in a 45 over competition running from 23 September to 8 October.
Planning for the World Cup is already well underway, with two preliminary practice sessions having been held. But those running the England side are determined to spread the net for representatives as far as possible.
In short, if you’re in the right age bracket, you could be walking out with the Three Lions on your chest in one of the world’s great cricket hotbeds later this year.
And if you can wangle the time off, you could even hop over the border to watch the full 50 over equivalent, which kicks off in India the week after an Over-40 final which will be broadcast live to viewers across the cricket world.
The England side will be coached by Luke Humphrey, who, understandably, can’t wait to get cracking.
“It’s the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented cricketers,” he tells the Club Cricket Conference. “It’s also a chance to represent my country at a World Cup, albeit at a recreational event. To be at the front-end of setting up a tournament for a brand new age group is massively exciting.
“Peter Rider, who runs the England over 50s and 60s approached me. When the news came out that there would be an inaugural World Cup in Pakistan, a flyer went out to generate interest. I was one of the people who came back and expressed an interest in the job.
“After a few conversations, I landed the job of head coach. Obviously it’s a separate from the England squads run by the ECB but nonetheless, to be able to lead your country in a first tournament of its kind is still an incredible honour.”
Given the performances of Jimmy Anderson and Darren Stevens in recent years, there has rarely been such a focus on cricketers who have turned 40. It’s highly unlikely that either will feature this World Cup side – Anderson will hope to be putting his feet up in September having seen off the challenge of the Australians in this summer’s Ashes – but Humphrey and a coaching team which might also include former South African quick Andre Nel, will still have plenty of talent to work with.
“I’ll be speaking to whoever is captain to really get a sense of how they want to run the team,” he says. “Then I’ll be there to support that and add my own sort of flavour to it. At the end of the day, we’ll have to look at the squad that we put together.
“It’s a really interesting process and we’re still in the early stages of putting that squad together. We want to reach out and hit as much of England as we can, rather than just reach a pocket of people that we might personally know. We want it to really reflect the English club game.”
Humphrey will be working closely with those involved in the club game, as well as the National Asian Cricket Council (NACC), to ensure this England side includes the broadest range of club cricketers possible.
It’s then over to those players to sell the notion of a three-week cricket tournament to wives or the businesses which employ them!
“We do have around 25 individuals who have already expressed an interest,” says Humphrey. “But essentially we’re pulling together a squad out of nothing.”
So, there you have it. If you’re over 40 and still scoring runs or taking wickets at the highest level of club cricket, this World Cup could thrust you into the spotlight. An England cap awaits those lucky enough to get on that plane.
For more information please contact Chris Mayes