Cyclone warning: Veterans the winds of change in cricket
VETERANS is "the growth area of cricket," according to Central Coast Cyclones Cricket Club president Bob Newman.
And he's not just talking about on the Coast, but across the country and the world, with a growing calendar of events across all three age-groups - over 50s, over 60s and over 70s.
While Bob said there is still a competitive edge to the cricket, especially if you get to state, national and now world competitions, it's mixed in with a lot of camaraderie and good feeling.
"There's a lot of blokes come along to the local matches and say, 'this is the way we should have been playing cricket all our lives'," he said.
"And the umpires love us, because everyone still enjoys a win, but it's not at all costs ... and if we sledge, we're only sledging our own blokes!"
Having joined the club at 59, and now turning 68, Bob fondly refers to the over-50s as "the babies", and reckons there are quite a few blokes who are 48 and 49 and "just itching" to qualify.
And there's every incentive, with the first over-50s World Cup featuring eight nations to be held in Sydney from November 20-December 5 this year.
As a warm-up, an invitational Australian side will be playing Wales at Baker Park, Wyong on November 19.
It follows on from the success of the Coast's first international, an over-60s match at the grounds 18 months ago against England.
This year the Cyclones have two over-60s sides heading to Maitland for the state championships, before the nationals in Penrith, featuring 32 teams from Australia and New Zealand.
Meanwhile the over-70s head to the Sunshine Coast for their national titles in September boasting five Cyclones in the NSW team - Len Hardy and Ken Campbell in Division 1, Howard Reay and Garry Castles in Division 2 and Bob Tranter as fill-in.
Bob paid tribute to club patron Bob Hook, now 82, who only gave up playing at 80, and had his last game at Bradman Oval in Bowral where, ironically, just like The Don, Bob Hook scored a duck in his last innings.
Bob stressed the veterans comp is not all about representative honours, with some players having continued in the sport over the years, and others returning after having given it up for families or work commitments and "just giving it a go to see if they've still got some skills left".
"We try to cater for all levels of ability and it's very collegial," he said, adding that some referred to the comp as "the Men's Shed in Whites".
"Some guys still get a bit of white line fever, but we've got fellows here who know they're not players of immense ability, but they enjoy running round the field, doing their best and the camaraderie."
If you're not sure if it's for you, he said, go along to weekly training and see, with the season not too far away, and fees, including cap and playing shirt just $40 annually.
"There's a saying that cricketers never get old, you get old because you stop playing cricket," Bob said.
If you are interested in finding out more, call Bob on 0418 624 559.