Proteas

Louis Koen ready to roll back the years at Over 50s World Cup

Louis Koen (Lloyd Burnard)
Louis Koen (Lloyd Burnard)

Cape Town - Louis Koen represented the Proteas in five ODIs between 1997 and 2000, but it has been around 13 years since he has played any competitive cricket. 

Now, at the age of 52, the former Eastern Province middle-order batsman is set to represent his country one more time at the upcoming Over 50's World Cup. 

The event, arranged by the Veterans Cricket Association of South Africa, will take place in and around Cape Town from March 11-24 with the tournament final set to be hosted at Newlands. 

There are 11 other countries participating, forming two pools of six, and on paper the South African certainly have one of the strongest competing sides with Koen playing alongside a number of former Proteas including captain Dave Callaghan, Alan Dawson, Piet Strydom and Henry Williams. 

"I'm in fairly decent shape still, so I said I'd give it a go," Koen told Sport24 at Newlands on Wednesday night during the Proteas' 97-run loss to Australia in the third and final T20 at Newlands. 

Koen, who scored over 10 000 runs in first-class cricket, has had to get back into the nets in a hurry and he says he has played four local club matches in recent weeks. 

"I've done quite well. I can still see the ball and am hitting it quite nicely so I'm looking forward to it," he said, adding that the opportunity to represent South Africa again would be special. 

"I never had the privilege of playing in a World Cup, so this is a first at a very late age and I'm definitely looking forward to it."

It may be a tournament that, on the surface, is about old friends reuniting and funds being generated for rhino conservation, but Koen says that once the sides cross the boundary ropes and take to the field, the competitive element will be impossible to sidestep. 

"It never leaves you. You're born with it. We still play golf and we're competitive and we still get upset of we play badly," he said. 

"One thing I hate doing is watching other guys bat, so I'll want to do well."

Koen, who now lives in Paarl, is set to open the batting for his side. He spends a lot of time on the golf course these days, but has always kept one eye on what is happening in the Proteas. 

"We always want the team to do well but we're busy with our lives. We're growing older and you've got to work hard in this country to make a decent living," he said.

"When I get the chance, I do watch the team and I still feel bad when they go through the black holes they've been through in the last couple of months."

When asked about South Africa's chances of winning, Koen was quietly optimistic. 

"We've got a strong team, make no bones about it," he said.  

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