ACTIVE AGEING: Kerry Emery at his home cricket club on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
ACTIVE AGEING: Kerry Emery at his home cricket club on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. Tracey Johnstone

Mastering cricket this summer at your local club

BACKYARD cricket is one childhood passion seniors can keep doing into their later years. It will help you stay active, social and mentally fit.

And for those men and women who just can't shake their competitive spirit, they can step up from a local friendly club game to pursue state, national and even international competition well into their Master years.

President of Veterans Cricket Australia (VCA), Kerry Emery, says the interest in Masters cricket has been growing strongly since 2007.

"A lot of guys were retiring in their mid-50s and were looking for things to do and people started to think we can still play cricket amongst our peers so let's start this off," Mr Emery said.

Victorians led the way with other states joining in quite quickly. "They got some old fellows playing within their state and then they started played against each other," he added. "It's grown from there."

There are now a 50s, 60s and a 70-and-over division with regional, state and national championships run for each of them. In Queensland alone, there are 16 registered teams. The VCA aims to support one Veterans women's team in each state by 2020.

Keen cricketers can even experience, some for the first time, representing Australia. "We have just had the national over-70s team return from England where they played official one-day cricket matches against England," Mr Emery said.

Mr Emery has played cricket since his early childhood. "I started in the backyard with dad and my brother," Mr Emery, 68, said. He has found it is good for his fitness and mental health. "It's a more active men's shed than a Men's Shed," he said. "We've had a number of men come to my club who have had severe depression, who have done it tough with marriage breakdown, alcohol or prostate cancer. They have found it a good place to come to."

He says his fellow Master cricketers are still competitive, no matter what age they are. "But everyone understands that there are twinges here and twinges there, or replacement knees or hamstrings that have been reattached," Mr Emery said. "You just have to play within your limits."

Generally, the players cost is about $35 per game day. "You don't have to have top of the range equipment," Mr Emery said.

If you haven't played cricket before or not for a long time, Mr Emery said there are plenty of clubs with training days throughout the year when new players can join in and learn about the game.

As the Masters players limber up at the Mr Emery's home club on Queensland's Sunshine Coast there is plenty of chatter, a lot of happy ribbing and some slick bowling moves in the nets among large group of men.

For more information on Veterans cricket, go to www.veteranscricketaustralia.com.au.


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