Local storm warning issued for veterans cricket championship
IT'S GOOD to have home ground advantage.
The best veteran cricket players from across the country will go toe-to-toe when the Sunshine Coast hosts the third Over-70s Veterans Cricket National Championships starting Thursday.
And Queensland Stormers captain and Sunshine Coast resident Gary Madsen can't wait to roll out the welcome mat.
"I still play grade cricket with Tewantin-Noosa and we've got two games at Read Park at Tewantin so I'm pretty happy about that," Gary, 74, told Seniors News.
"And I've got seven Sunshine Coast players in my side and they all play regularly at Read Park or Yandina - the two venues we've got so that's pretty special."
And the Stormers may need all the local support they can get with a baptism of fire awaiting them in their first pool match.
However, Gary remained confident the Stormers could give the parochial home crowd something to cheer about when the time came to handing out the trophies.
"I think we'll do well," he said. "The side we've drawn to play first-up has nine Australian tourists who have just come back from England, so we've got a fair challenge ahead of us.
"But I'm not too worried about that."
Gary - who grew up with cricket in the blood - played junior cricket, grade and representative cricket while living in Ipswich.
Even when he decided to hang up the gloves and pads at the age of 45, the lure of the game was too great, and turned his hand to administration, becoming the longest serving board director in Queensland cricket and was last year inducted into the Australian Country Cricket Championships Hall of Fame.
But it was a fateful run-in with an old mate that got him to pick up the bat again and enter the world of veteran's cricket.
"It was at a Bulls masters game in Ipswich and he said to me 'why don't you come and have a game'," Gary said.
"And I said 'I haven't picked up a bat in 27 years'.
"Well two weeks later I was playing for Queensland against New South Wales and the rest is history."
Now, Gary is leading the charge of veteran's cricket on the Sunshine Coast.
Taking on the role of regional coordinator, Gary has overseen a competition that has ballooned from six players to 55 registered players in five years, raking in the wins and the titles along the way.
"The good thing about it is that there were a lot of people that were good, grade cricketers and state representative cricketers in their time, but there's lots of guys who just love cricket," Gary said.
"And to see them come along and enjoy themselves and improve their skills, that's pretty rewarding within itself."
But those skills will be to the test when the first ball is bowled in anger on Thursday.
Nearly 150 players from 14 teams across Australia will vie for glory at the championships - the third time since the over-70s broke away as a stand-alone competition.
And Gary said players and spectators were in for a great show. Just don't expect any verbal fireworks between opponents to light up the contest.
Between teammates? Well, that's another story.
"Against opposition, (sledging) is virtually non-existent," Gary said. "There's a fair bit of banter that goes on amongst your own players, which is good and healthy.
"All part of the fun."
OVER-70S VETERANS CRICKET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
When: 13-18 September
Where: Tewantin-Noosa Cricket Club, Yandina Cricket Club, Maroochydore Cricket Club, Caloundra Cricket Club.
Contact: Phone Kerry Emery on 0448156974 or email email@example.com