A section of founder members at the launch party. Plans are afoot to build a clubhouse specifically for the team, which will play fixtures against local and international teams Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Forty-and-over is the age when the body starts to remind you that you can't bowl as fast as you used to nor run between the wickets as quickly as you once could.

However a group of cricketers here believe in the famous saying: "You don't stop playing because you grow old but you grow old because you stop playing."

Many veterans are regulars in the UAE's domestic cricket tournaments but no one ever thought to form an exclusive club for them. That was until the Forty's Club was born.


Freddy Sidhwa, who in his 70s but plays cricket regularly, often named the man of the match, is an inspiration for all the veterans.

So passionate is he about cricket that for the opening ceremony of the Forty's Club at the Grand Hyatt on December 8 he had to rush to the event playing two matches that day.

Forty's Club is made up of veteran cricketers who all think alike and love the game as much as they love their life and profession.

Different names

For many years this group played under different names such as Veterans XI, Dubai Forty's team and the Indian Invitation XI.

It all began soon after businessman I.P. Khaitan, who once played alongside the likes of Dilip Doshi in Kolkata and was known as the sponsor of the UAE team that played in the 1996 World Cup, returned to playing despite being in his 70s.

Facing the last ball of a nail biting match this year he proved cricket is a game for all the ages. Khaitan was unanimously elected as chairman of the Forty's Club.

It was only after the UAE veterans a touring team from the UK made up of many former English county players that they realised that they are as fit as any in the world.

The Forty's Club was quick and easy to form because many cricketers, though in their 50s, were still playing and inspiring youngsters to pick up the willow.

Shaji-ul-Mulk, skipper of the Eurocon Alubond team, a regular tournament winner, has won man of the match awards playing alongside his son.

He was rightly named vice-chairman of the Forty's Club.

C.T.K. Nasir, as skipper of the Nucaf team, has inspired not only his son but also his brothers to represent the UAE and India's Ranji Trophy teams.

Tournament sponsor

Sidhwa, as skipper of the Seven Seas Strikers, not only sponsors tournaments but also makes sure his employees play regularly in matches at the Seven Seas ground.

Shiva Pagarani is skipper of the Yogi Group, who are among the best teams in the UAE.

His team's match-winning performances inspire the young players in the team.

There are many more similar stories including former UAE opener and Indian player Riyaz Poonawala and Vijay Mehra.

Jairaj Thakur is still hitting double centuries, despite his age, while Mazhar Khan who is as agile as a youngster behind the stumps. Mohammad Lokhandwala continues to play innings as if he was still skipper of the Air India team.

Networking forum

The Indian Consul Generals to the UAE like Yash Sinha, Venu Rajamony and Sanjay Verma, play regularly against these veterans, displaying their abilities as cricketers.

The Forty's Club is an exclusive networking forum with a defined programme of corporate affairs, entertainment and sports affairs.

The corporate affairs programme will include local and international networking and a creation of new business opportunities forum.

There are also plans to establish a club house. The building will be a place to socialise, stage dinners, and network.

Members of the club will play local and international teams as well as going on tours to watch World Cup and IPL games. The club will also organise celebrity shows, picnics and support tournaments like celebrity cricket, being held at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium next month.

Plans are also on to stage a World Veterans Tournament in 2013.


Founder members of an exclusive organisation


I.P. Khaitan (chairman of Forty's Club), Faizal Edavalath Kottikollon (founder president and CEO KEF Holdings), Rizwan Sajan (founder and chairman Danube Group), Paras Shahdadpuri (owner Nikkai Group Of Companies), Ashok Puri (founder and chairman MGT Group), Mazhar Khan (chief co-ordinator of Forty's Club and administrator of Emirates Cricket Board), Freddy Sidhwa (owner Seven Seas Service Group), Mohammad Khubaib (managing partner Wilson Group), Dr Sudhir Kartha (founder and chairman Eskay Holdings), Tauseef Khan (founder and chairman City Group Tower Group), Arshi Islam (CEO Maforix), Shafi-ul-Mulk (founder and managing partner GHT and GHID), Shiva G. Pagarani (owner Yogi Group), Mohammad Lokhandwala (treasurer of Forty's Club and secretary of Dubai Cricket Council), C.T.K. Nasir (founder and managing partner Nucaf), Brij Raj Bhalla (CEO Radio Asia Network), Indu Mouli (general manager NMC Trading), Gurinderjit Singh (founder and chairman Jaguar Buildcom) and Shaji-ul-Mulk (vice chairman of Forty's Club and founder and chairman Mulk Holdings).

— K.R.N.