IT MIGHT not be an official State Carnival as yet but Tamworth Veterans Cricket (TVC) is staging its second NSW Veterans Cricket Championship this week.
Based at Riverside, the Over 60s cricket carnival has eight sides playing four days of 40 over-a-side cricket.
Former Test leg spinner Robert “Dutchy” Holland is just one of the players taking part in a competition featuring about 120 players in another boost for the local economy.
Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray helped officially open the carnival yesterday and was delighted to see such a good turnout.
“I might even have a run next year,” Murray said.
“They look like they have good fun.”
On a serious and financial note, Murray reckoned it was just another example of how sport is such a moneyspinner for the local economy.
“It’s extremely important for the city,” he said.
“Just another feature for our city.
“We have to be grateful to the community leaders who make it happen.
“Sport is one of the drivers of our regional economy.”
He said men such as Doug Crowell and Mike Cashman ensure their events are well- run and provide the city’s motels, hotels and restaurants with important cash injections.
Crowell is the chairman of the TVC commitee, Cashman is secretary and Noel Cook its treasurer.
“We can’t call it an official State Championship yet,” Crowell said yesterday.
“We haven’t quite got permission for that yet.
“It’s ridiculous really because we ran this last year.”
“It’s a state carnival and everyone thinks this is the best facility in the state – they all tell us there is nowhere else like it with the clubhouse and the turf wickets so close.
“We’re also backed so well by the Tamworth Regional Council.
“They make sure the turf wickets are all prepared for us.
“ They worked very hard last year to get it right for us and we thank them for that and again for this year.”
Crowell said eight teams would play off this week but not all eight were at full strength, with Western suffering from a shortage of players.
To help them through, the other seven teams will send their 12th men to play for Western.
Tamworth is also strong, with Aussie rep Albie Barwick to lead a Blue team which won the carnival last year and Noel Cook to lead a Gold team containing a number of “debutantes”.
That includes the likes of Tom Kellett and Peter Everett.
Kellett hasn’t played “for 20 years”.
“I turn 60 in a couple of weeks and just sneak in,” he said.
Everett is 54 but is allowed to play as part of a rule enabling some under-age players, Crowell said.
“We allow four players in each squad who are over 55s to play – it allows people to improve and keep their teams going,” he said.
Everett has played a few games for the Tamworth Over 50s in trial games against the Tamworth Over 60s.
“It’s great fun,” Everett, who plays lower grades for South Tamworth, said.
Kellett said his younger brother Greg enticed him back to play in Over 60s games at No 1 Oval last season.
“We played under lights,” Kellett said.
“It was great playing under the lights.
“I hadn’t had a bat in my hands for 25 years.”
Dave Head is a regular vets cricketer now.
“I’ve been playing Over 60s so long I’m almost 60,” he joked.
Unfortunately, day one wasn’t a good one for the Tamworth sides with both going down.
The defending champion, Tamworth Blue, played out a nailbiter with Central Coast at Max Sutton Oval before going down by a single wicket.
Tamworth made 8-121, with Barwick’s unbeaten 31, Michael Morgan’s 22 and Rob Laurie’s 21 not out the highlights.
But Central Coast’s Greg Briggs was unstoppable and, when he returned to the crease after retiring, he ensured the visitors won the game with 47 not out.
Head took 3-9 late in the chase but to no avail.
Tamworth Gold managed 9-121 at Riverside 5, with Chris Crowell’s 31 not out the top score while Ian Hodge took 3-15 for Hunter.
Mick Gallagher (30) and John Fryer (31) both retired and Bruce Watham added 29 as Hunter chased the total down for an easy eight-wicket win.
Quirindi flew the local flag though with a six-wicket success over Western at Chaffey Park.
Western was short of troops and had to call on some ring-ins before being bowled out for 74, thanks in part to Barry McNamara’s 3-2 for Quirindi.
Jim Stewart then hit 32 retired and John Southam 23 in the chase.
Out at TRECC, Northern scored a good total of 4-152 with Graeme Andrews (30ret), John O’Shaughnessy (30ret) and skipper Merv Bourke (25) among the runs.