‘Much respect to the Over-50s World Cup guys’

Former England fast bowler Gladstone Small says he has nothing but praise for the 192 players that will be taking part in the Over-50s Cricket World Cup in Cape Town next week.

Twelve teams will play seven games each in a two-week period starting on March 11, with the final set for the iconic Newlands Cricket Stadium on March 24.

Small admits he is still a cricket fanatic, some 25 years after hanging up his bowling spikes. His company, Black Opal Travel Group, arranges cricket tours around the world, and he still plays the odd charity match. But to play a full-blown tournament, 45 overs per match, in 14 days?

“There’s no chance I’ll be able to make it,” he says. “I struggle to make it through a social game these days, so to play that many games … no chance! But much respect to the Over-50s World Cup guys - it’s brilliant that they’re still playing and getting a chance to represent their country.”

Small lands in South Africa this week as a member of the Lord’s Taverners Celebrity Cricket XI, and will play two matches in Cape Town along with the likes of Mike Gatting, David Gower and Andy Caddick. So what can we expect from the former England new-ball bowler?

“I really don’t play cricket all that much these days apart from the odd Taverners game,” he says. “But if I can take my pint around the field with me and forget about the pain I’m going to be in, I’ll happily play.

“All I will say is it’s going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt the guy I’m trying to bowl to 22 yards away. Gone are the days when someone would hit me for four or six that I can puff my chest out and try and big myself up. I just take my beatings as they come these days on the cricket field. The only danger the batsmen face from me these days is the time it takes the ball to get to them - the may fall asleep!”

The Taverners are in town to promote their charity, Table Cricket, which gives mentally and physically handicapped people a chance to participate in an adapted version of the game.

“Anything that gets cricket being played in and around the community has my support,” Small says. “Then obviously the fact that anyone with physical or learning disabilities can get play Table Cricket and get involved, mix and mingle with their peers and friends … the social interaction that it brings is very good to see.

“The thing about cricket is it’s a team game, of course, but it’s also very much down to the individual to bring his or her abilities to the field, or the table in this case. Then the team stuff develops and mushrooms from there, and that’s why, for me, cricket has always been the ultimate game.”

* The Lord’s Taverners charity celebrity cricket team and supporters will be in Cape Town to support Lord’s Taverners SA at the Sporting Legends Dinner at Kelvin Grove on March 7. The event will be hosted by Dan Nicholl, and will include chats from cricket legends like David Gower, Mike Gatting, Andy Caddick and Vincent van Der Bijl, as well as rugby stars Rob Andrew and George Chuter. Proceeds will go towards Lord’s Taverners SA’s various charity projects.

For more information or to book your spot, contact Ruth Mackenzie

Email: ruth@imergeconcepts.com

Phone: +27 (0)82 886 2818