South Africa have been dealt a blow a month before the start of the Over-50 World Cup with the forced withdrawal of star batsman Jonty Rhodes.
The 50-year-old veteran of four World Cup campaigns was set for a fifth with the Over 50s until a clash of commitments forced him to withdraw.
Rhodes was committed to play in a series of exhibition games in India after the World Cup but the dates were changed which ruled out Rhodes’ participation.
‘It is frustrating and regrettable because I was really looking forward to having another crack at winning a World Cup,’ Rhodes said.
‘I will still be around the squad whenever I can be and will be doing everything I can to support the players and help with preparation but, unfortunately, I won’t be able to play.
SA Over-50s captain and former Proteas all-rounder Dave Callaghan said: ‘We all knew that we would have to raise our games by at least 20% if Jonty was missing when we played together 25 years ago – and the same thing applies now. Jonty is impossible to replace but we still have a very strong squad.’
Rhodes is replaced by Cape Town’s leg-spinning all-rounder Bruce Wilson, who played Premier League cricket for WPCC and Claremont for over 25 years.
The SA squad will be coached by legendary fast bowler Allan Donald, and includes former Proteas internationals Louis Koen, Pieter Strydom, Henry Williams, Alan Dawson as well as Callaghan.
The tournament involves 12 teams and will be played in and around Cape Town from 11 March, with the final at Newlands on 24 March. Australia are the defending Over-50 champions, having defeated Pakistan by just three runs in a tense final in Sydney in 2018.
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