Troy Sands, elder statesman of top-grade cricket in the region, was suckled on the game in Gunnedah – taken to matches by a fellow cricket tragic, his father, Neil. At age 41, Sands still loves the game so much he would play seven days a week if he could.
His father supplied the blueprint. And at age 70-something he still plays the occasional second-grade game in Gunnedah and is in the Gunnedah veterans team.
Sands hopes his son, 13-year-old Brayden, maintains the family tradition. “The young fella’s played a couple years of juniors,” the left-arm medium-pacer said. “Hopefully he gets into it. That would be nice.”
The veteran’s passion for the game is so deeply rooted that he left the familiar surrounds of Kookaburras Cricket Club, where he had been since the late 1980s, and joined reigning four-time premiers Old Boys this season. He was after a “change of scenery” and a fresh challenge before too old to do so.
In Old Boys’ one-day final thumping of West Tamworth at No.1 Oval last Friday night, he opened the bowling under lights and charged in like a teenager. He claimed the early breakthrough and howled like it was his first ever wicket. He finished with 3-38 off eight overs.
After playing in Gunnedah’s Twenty20 competition at Kitchener Park on Friday, he will be back action at No.1 Oval on Saturday when North Tamworth commence their innings chasing 263. He hit a vital 31-ball 25 batting at No.9 on day one of the two-day match. He chuckled when asked if he considers himself an allrounder. “I’ve been called that a few times, but I’m more of a bowler.”
“I absolutely love it [cricket],” he added. “I play as much as I can. I’d play seven days a week if I could. But the body doesn’t agree as much anymore.
“I’m starting to get a few niggling injuries most weeks now. But I’d rather put up with a bit pain and have a game than miss out.”
The decision to leave his spiritual cricket home, Kookaburras, wasn’t an easy one. He mulled it for a “couple of years”, and announced his decision at the club’s annual general meeting last year. He was president at the time. “No one was too surprised,” he said. “They knew I’d been considering it for a while, and I made the decision and they respected that.”
In 11 matches this season, he has taken nine wickets at an average of 29.4.
In other matches on Saturday, South Tamworth will resume at 3-37 chasing Bective East’s 232 at Riverside No.1, while City United will resume at 5-41 chasing West Tamworth’s 206 at Riverside 2.