For the past four seasons Mehboob Elahi and Preetinder Singh have proudly worn the three Seaxes of Middlesex on their chests, taking to the field together as teammates in the club’s Over 50’s county side.
Next month however, for the first time, they’ll put close friendships and Middlesex camaraderie aside, as Elahi proudly dons the international shirt of England and Singh slips into the famous international blue of India, as the pair have been selected to represent their respective countries in the second ever Over 50’s World Cup, being held in Cape Town, South Africa.
Elahi, 53, born in Lahore, will be making his England international debut at the tournament. The free-flowing top-order batsman and slow left-arm orthodox bowler first played for Middlesex Over 50’s in 2017, making his debut against Hertfordshire at Balls Park in Hertford. To date, his best return for Middlesex with the ball is against Hertfordshire, when he took 5 for 20. For the last four years Elahi has played his club cricket at Harrow St Mary’s, having previously played at Harrow for many years after initially playing in the Surrey Premier League with Normandy.
On reacting to his call up for England, Elahi commented:
“Having been born in Lahore and then moving to England, to a new country, and to be considered worthy and good enough to play for my adopted country is a real privilege and a very proud moment.
“Playing against so many legends of our great game is humbling. The chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Mark Alleyne and Jonty Rhodes among many other legends is really exciting.”
Singh, 52, was born in India, and like Elahi will be making his international debut at the World Cup. The top-order batsman and versatile right-arm bowler, who can bowl both seam and spin, made his competitive debut for Middlesex Over 50’s in 2017 against Kent at the Moat, having successfully come through a trial match against Hertfordshire at Wembley. Singh’s score of 82 against Buckinghamshire remains his best score for his county. Singh’s journey through club cricket originally saw him representing well-known wandering side Kensington CC, then on to Slough, Ealing, Southall, Datchet and now to his current club of Uxbridge.
Singh earned his World Cup call-up after accepting an invitation to attend an international trial in India, where, over nine gruelling days of matches and nets in the intense heat and dust of Mumbai, he was duly rewarded with a place in the Indian World Cup squad:
After receiving the news of his call-up, Singh commented:
“When I received the call up it came as a complete surprise and a bolt out of the blue.
“It is the ultimate dream to represent the country of your birth and I am extremely proud and excited.
“The ultimate goal, with the final being played at Newlands, is to make it to the final, but with the quality of players in the tournament that will be a huge task. Hopefully we’ll get off to a winning start and then just take it one game at a time.”
The pair fly out to Cape Town in early March to begin preparations for the tournament, which kicks off on Wednesday 11th March, and they’ll go head to head in their opening clash - with England taking on India at Green Point Cricket Club.
Elahi’s England side will then face hosts’ South Africa next in the group game, before taking on Namibia, Pakistan and finally Wales, whilst Singh’s World Cup journey will see his Indian side take on rivals Pakistan next in another huge clash, before then facing South Africa, Wales and finally Namibia.
Should Either side qualify from their group, the semi-finals will take place on 20th March at either Greenpoint or Claremont Cricket Clubs, ahead of the final on March 24th – being played at the famous international stadium of Newlands.
The tournament will be live streamed around the world, with every single game available to watch online via the Over 50’s World Cup website, www.over50scricket.com.
There will also be another player at the World Cup who will be familiar to many within the Middlesex cricket system, as Stanmore opener Navin Samarakoon will be heading to Cape Town to represent Sri Lanka at the tournament.
Whilst Samarakoon has yet to play for Middlesex Over 50’s, he has begun netting with the club’s seniors this winter, and no doubt Singh and Elahi will be laying on the charm offensive over the forthcoming two weeks in Cape Town, to ensure Middlesex over 50’s can take the field this summer with another international cricketer within their ranks!
Bob Baxter, Chairman of the Middlesex Cricket Board, commented:
“We are extremely proud of both Mehboob and Preet on receiving call-ups to their respective national sides and we have no doubt that they will represent their nations with pride and distinction.
“Both are valuable members of Middlesex’s Over 50’s side and we wish them all the very best of luck out in Cape Town, as we also do for Navin, who we look forward to playing with this summer at Middlesex.”