Dubai: Although in his seventies now, Freddy Sidhwa continues to be active on the UAE’s domestic cricket circuit, and he has proved yet again that players with an undying passion and devotion for the game don’t have to give up on their dreams.
And his spirit to continue playing – defying his age – has helped him accomplish a feat that most cricketers can only dream of.
Playing at the historic Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, he took the prize wicket of one of the game’s hardest-hitting batsman ever, New Zealander Brendon McCullum, with his gentle left-arm spin.
Sidhwa, representing Team Madison Avenue in the JP Morgan International Cricket Cup alongside many legends of the game, dismissed McCullum by inducing an edge to the wicketkeeper.
This is the second year in succession that Sidhwa is being invited by JP Morgan, sponsors of the Lord’s Cricket Ground, to play in their tournament, which sees their clients teaming up with some of the world’s most renowned players.
Speaking to Gulf News, Sidhwa said: “McCullum was representing Team Wall Hall. I was playing under the captaincy of Andrew Strauss (former England captain) for Team Madison. The matches were of 10 overs each, and McCullum was unbeaten in his first two matches. Batting first, our team could muster only 43 runs. Since it was a small total, McCullum did not open the batting against us. Strauss wanted to start with spin and he gave me the ball. I took a wicket with the fifth ball, bowling all dot balls. McCullum came in next and hit my first ball just over the fielder on the off side for a boundary. Strauss asked me to continue and McCullum again hit the first ball of my second over for a huge six into the stands. I bowled the second ball on the off stump a little slower, and while he was shaping for a powerful shot, edged it to the wicketkeeper. It was a dream moment for me with Strauss and my team members hugging me and the giant screen at Lord’s showing me celebrating taking the wicket!”
Since Team Madison’s total was a small one, they lost the match. But Sidhwa was greeted by many legends of the game for becoming the only bowler to dismiss McCullum in the tournament.
McCullum captained New Zealand in all three forms of the international game and recorded the fastest Test century of all time. McCullum is also the leading career scorer in Twenty20 International cricket.
But Sidhwa added: “A greater moment awaited me at the Lord’s Long Room. McCullum came and congratulated me and gifted his batting gloves after autographing them. Among those who congratuled me were Sunil Gavaskar and Kumar Sangakkara.”
Sidhwa, while playing in the Sindhi cricket league in the UAE, once produced a spell of six wickets for one run, and on one of his birthdays produced another six-wicket spell to bowl the Seven Seas team to victory against Emrill Cricket Club. This veteran makes sure he plays in a tournament or match every weekend, and he also urges employees of his company to play with him.
Sidhwa has been playing cricket for nearly six decades now and has won the man of the match award on numerous occasions during this period. But he often declines his man of the match awards and requests organisers to give it to the second best performer. “When I play cricket I feel like a 24-year-old boy. Cricket is one game I cannot resist playing,” remarks the proud septuagenarian.