Even with Kenya’s cricket into the abyss, its former national players have continued to command respect globally, with the latest being ex-captain Aasif Karim.
The 60-year-old Karim has been drafted in the Rest of the World Cup squad that will feature in the 2024 International Masters Cricket (IMC) Over 60s World Cup in Chennai City, India from February 18 to March 4.
He is the only Kenyan invited to the second edition of the competition organised by Veterans India Foundation.
Other teams that will grace the tournament are; hosts India, Canada, England, New Zealand, South Africa, United States of America, Zimbabwe, Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Wales and West Indies.
The Rest of the World Cup team is composed of former top players from across the globe, who as a country are not able to have enough players in the age group to form a team.
Karim who represented Kenya in three International Cricket Council World Cups; 1996 (vice-captain), 1999 (captain) and 2003 said he is delighted to be part of the historic tournament.
“It is nice to meet new friends and be back on the ground and play in my age group,” said Karim, who is best remembered for his heroics for Kenya against Australia in the 2003 World Cup that was co-hosted by Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
While Kenya lost to Australia by five wickets, Karim shone with three wickets in 8.2 overs where he earned six maiden and conceded seven runs only. As part of his preparation for the upcoming tournament, Karim has hired a fitness trainer to help him achieve maximum fitness level.
He has also been practising bowling, catching and batting skills.
“Even before I was invited for the tournament, I was fit as I have been training personally. But I have since stepped up with the help of a personal trainer. I am mentally stronger and looking forward to the tournament,” said the former Nairobi Jaffery Sports Club and Mombasa Sports Club player who retired in 2003.
He will depart Kenya for the competition on Tuesday evening.
Karim made a return to the pitch on January 7 in the Kenya Legends T20 match that was held at Sikh Union Club in Nairobi.
Two teams; Red and Green, which were composed of former Kenya national team players took part in the memorial contest with Karim being crowned the best bowler after he took two wickets in two overs where he conceded six runs.
In the upcoming World Cup, Karim said that he will bank on his experience to help guide his team to victory. “I will be using my experience depending on the condition and situations. It will also be a good social and networking opportunity,” said the former international, who also represented Kenya in Tennis at the Davis Cup against Egypt in 1988 and played in the presidents’ cup in Nigeria in 1989.
He is the chairman of Safinaz Foundation, which organises the Kenya International Sports Film Festival. The foundation has also for the last 23 years consistently published a sports magazine titled Sports Monthly.