Every cricketing school boy’s dreams of playing for England. Rarely do you have to wait almost 50 years for the dream to come true! In July 2019, I made my England Over 60s debut against Australia at New Malden, Essex. My cap was presented by Essex stalwart David Acfield. Three Tests followed against the Aussies & one against Pakistan. Pakistan were easily beaten despite the fact they had 5 former Test Match cricketers in their ranks. The series against the Aussies was won 2-1 despite defeat in the third ODI at Hove. I was delighted to open the batting in each of these matches, top scoring with 65* against Pakistan.
In early November, a very similar squad headed down-under for what the Aussies called ‘The Grey Ashes’. Also part of the squad was Devon’s Nigel Ashplant, who sadly had his arm broken, at Manly, Sydney, with a hard hit return whilst standing as non-striker, terminating his keeping skills for the remainder of the tour
Matches were played in Adelaide against New Zealand, South Australia & Western Australia, before we headed to Tasmania for two matches against the state. Post this we flew to Canberra where we beat ACT.
Then it was to the Bradman Oval at Bowral for the 1st ODI. We were treated like Royalty & to have the opportunity to play on Sir Don’s iconic oval was wonderful. The game was won; 1-0 up in the series we enjoyed the banter in the Bradman Museum with a splendid meal with the opposition. Throughout the tour, the Aussies were ruthless on the field but off it, great & generous hosts. From Bowral we headed to Manly, Sydney, a couple of days off exploring the sites, including a helicopter ride over the famous harbour.
Further games ensued against New South Wales (City, Central Coast) before the second ODI. Suddenly, the series is in the balance at 1-1! We are not perturbed, knowing we could & should have done better. So it’s off to the interior & Tamworth. Here in our coloured clothing with radio & local TV coverage we beat Northern NSW in a great day/nighter; for many it was our first & very positive experience of white ball cricket.
We were now entering the last leg of the tour based in the stunning Surfers’ Paradise. Queensland Country & City were both beaten before the big decider down in Brisbane. Our preparation was good. We batted first scoring a respectable 226 for 8 in our 50 overs in 38 degrees of heat. The Aussies looked dead certs to over haul us at 171-3 but with our never say die attitude we came home by 10 runs, to win the Grey Ashes, 2-1. What a victory! What a tour! What an amazing experience!
And this year, pandemic permitting, we will be back down in Australia in November on the Gold Coast for the inaugural O60s World Cup. Come on England.
RPM’s stats: Pld 8 Innings 8, N/O 3, Runs 222, Average 44.40, S/R 60.82 CT 3.