Last weekend saw a group of allegedly mature aged cricketers take to Tamworth’s No 1 Oval for the first of a few match practice sessions leading in to February’s first ever Over 50s State Championships.
Whilst Tamworth has a large group of experienced and active Over 60s to Over 80s representing regularly, this is a first for those not yet at their sixth decade.
Keeper batsmen and Over 50 advocate Barry Everingham said that with many of Friday’s participants playing for the first time in years, the execution wasn’t as they may have hoped but there was some very promising signs.
“For most, just being back on the park was a thrill and catching up with past mates and opponents is a huge part of the plan,” Everingham said.
With two sides heading to the championships in Port Macquarie towards the end of February, the reborn lads are keen to have more fun, whilst getting fitter and enjoying the challenge of trying to rediscover some skills of a bygone time.
“Some of them seem to be taking to it all like kids in a lolly shop.”
The two sides have been named after both of Tamworth’s Test bowling products as the Gleeson XI took the ball first and, whilst not grabbing early wickets, kept the run rate reasonably controlled.
By the end of the first 20 over session, the Hazlewoods found themselves at 4 for 73 before the Gleesons took a turn to bat and mirrored that effort. After their first 20 overs, they were 4 for 86.
In the second session, the Hazlewoods lost wickets regularly and were in trouble at 9 for 116, until a last wicket partnership took them to a reasonable total of 159.
The Gleeson likewise fell apart a little in their run chase and were facing defeat at 8 for 123. With one batsman retired hurt with a suspected broken finger, the team fell on a last wicket fight back with a difference.
“Both remaining batsman had leg injuries and required runners,” Everingham said.
“So there was the very rare sight, if not a first, of 4 padded players scampering, carefully and somewhat confusedly.”
In amongst that merriment, there was some great boundaries which saw an excellent and surprising win for the Gleesons at 8 for 164 off 35 overs.
“The unusual ‘runners’ situation was just one of many fun parts of the evening and both sides were glad to have some of our local Over 60s players fill the squads.”
Chris Crowell, O60s Vets Skipper, recently selected in the Australian Over 60s and getting a win against the touring English side, was a standout for the Gleesons with an unbeaten 56, ably supported by the fellow injured Pete Summerall, who was unbeaten on 18.
Gavin Tilse, Steve Massey, Wally Hammond and Gary Whale bowled consistent spells for the Hazlewoods, whilst all bowlers blew the cobwebs out and found a few sinews they’d previously forgotten about.
Gary Whale (38*), Tom Kellett (23) and Roger Doughty (29*) had done the excellent fightback for the Hazlewoods whilst Jim Pitman, Dave Head, Summerall, Murray Hartin and Pete Everett all took wickets and bowled good spells for the Gleesons.
The players will welcome some more training and another practice match on February 3 and are hoping that their new experiences will lead to more guys wanting to become involved. Anyone turning 50, or already there, now has a new ‘Peter Pan’ opportunity and are welcome to join those already on board.
A non-playing highlight of the match was a special presentation by Tamworth Vets President Doug Crowell to outgoing Secretary and stalwart, Dave Head. ‘Heady’ has been a real driving force in the Vets’ scene in the area and across the state. Doug thanked him on behalf of all and praised his commitment and organisation to assist the growth of Vets cricket in the state. He will continue in his role as NSW Vets Secretary but is moving abodes after a lifetime in our city and he will be greatly missed.
All in the cricket scene and at The Leader wish him well.