“Veteran’s Cricket Week” Review

“Veteran’s Cricket Week”

 Muscat, Sultanate of Oman (April 10 – 15, 2017)

Oman Cricket recently conducted it’s inaugural Veterans Cricket week, which was a great success. Visiting Cricket 50+ captain, Pradeep Godbole shares his thoughts about their recent trip to Muscat.

Its very difficult to believe that a 5 minutes discussion at Wankhede Stadium would turn into such a wonderful opportunity for my team Cricket 50+. During the lunch break at India v/s England Test Match in December, 2016, Mr. Pankaj Khimji, Director at Oman Cricket, and Mr Paul Sheridan overheard my conversation, with a friend, about my team of over 50 years and they promptly joined in the discussion. Mr. Pankaj appeared impressed and was off the block in a flash when he said, “Bring over your team to Oman. Let me know how do you want to go about it and we will work out something.” After a few e mails everything was put in place. A proposal to participate in a “Veteran’s Cricket Week” arrived. Such a gracious proposal that no one would ever refuse. Mr. Wilfred Paul, Marketing Manager, Oman Cricket, organized/planned everything very efficiently and was in touch with us throughout.

Assembling a team was surprisingly not a problem for me. Only question everyone asked was, “Will it be too hot to play there?”  These doubts were put to rest immediately when we were told that matches would be played at night under floodlights. Weather reports on Google also gave a positive picture. Mr. Pankaj had already assured me that at Muscat they had two lush green grounds with very sporting pitches.

The idea of Veteran’s Cricket was to provide maximum playing opportunity to all and also keep in mind the fitness levels of participants. So we suggested about half a dozen special playing conditions that were contradictory to the MCC Cricket Laws. Oman Cricket readily accepted them all.

Oman Cricket had chosen our opponent teams with great care to ensure a good contest. Our 4 opponent teams {Umpire’s XI, All Omani XI, OC Board XI and Dromedary XI} were an excellent mix of seniors and a few youngsters. All the matches were played in a truly sporting atmosphere but at the same time no team was willing to give an inch and all these matches went up to the last over. In our 3rd match versus Oman Cricket Board XI, Mr. Pankaj Khimji won the toss and said, “We bat first.” I replied “Oh no, in both the matches we had fielded first and our boys wanted to bat first this time.” Mr. Pankaj promptly said, “Ok, you bat first.” Such a magnanimous gesture. I think that is the success of Veteran’s Cricket. That is how Veteran’s Cricket will be played and should be played all the time.

Veterans 2

The real challenge was the 2nd match versus the All Omani XI – a team comprising only the local Omani players. I must appreciate the concern shown by Oman Cricket Officials for the local talent. Many of these boys had not played on a turf pitch or on such a lush green carpet. Further, they were testing their talent against a team from India – the No 1 Cricket playing nation in the world. I am sure that such a wonderful gesture by Oman Cricket Officials would do wonders to the confidence of these young players and would also give further fillip to development of cricket in Oman. Needless to add that this talented team gave us a real thrashing. We somehow managed to bat through our allotted 25 overs which in itself was quite an achievement. Here we must add that we were truly impressed with the local young talent.

We felt greatly honored when Mr. Kanaksi Khimji, Chairman Oman Cricket, personally came over to see our match and ensured that all the arrangements were in perfect order. His Highness Qais Khalid Qais Al Said, Vice Chairman, Oman Cricket, also played against us and clubbed me for a towering six over deep mid wicket. Other Oman Cricket officials were also present either as players or in their official capacity as Board Members.

A special mention must be made of Mr. Dad Mohammed, a Senior Oman Cricket Board Member. Each day he would be there at the Ground to receive us and then ensure throughout the evening that everything went off well. He was truly a father figure out there taking great care of each one of us. And when it came to official functions he ensured to accompany us so that we did not got lost in finding the address. He did all this with so much love and care.

Playing 4 matches on a trot was quite a task. But the best part is that one doesn’t feel the aches and pains when one is enjoying what he is doing. The same was true in our case too. To say that each one of us had a fabulous time at Muscat would be a gross understatement. The fatigue of playing and hot weather, however, gave limited scope for site seeing but the players did manage to visit important places in and around Muscat.

Official lunch/dinners hosted by Mr. Kanaksi Khimji, Mr. Madhursinh Jesrani and Mr. Pankaj Khimji at their residences were very special occasions and our team members would remember them for many, many years. It is heartening to note that they have expressed their desire to bring a Veteran’s Team to India this December.

During the week we met our friends/ relatives and many other Indian families who are residing in Oman. Everyone, without exception, said that they were very happy here and that the Omanis were very kind hearted and peace-loving people and therefore, very easy to get along.

Meeting the Sri Lankan Cricketing Legend, Mr. Duleep Mendis was certainly the icing on the cake. We firmly believe that Oman Cricket is moving in right direction under his command. The day is not far off when Oman Cricket would receive “Test Match” status and soon a test match would be played at this lush green venue. I would surely be there to see the first ever test match played by Oman.

Our best wishes will always be there with the Oman Cricket Team.

 Pradeep Godbole (Captain, Cricket 50+)

Mumbai, India

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