Staffordshire Seniors Cricket

Returning to the cricket field last year, aged 57 after a 33 year break, I wrote several times that I had set myself the target of paying Seniors Cricket for Staffordshire.

At the time it is fair to say it was more aspirational statement than thought through objective, and that was certainly reinforced throughout the season as I realised just how tough on the old body the fielding was (and the running between the wickets)

The season rapidly became a case of survival, nursing the old body through the various ached and pains, and figuring out what talent (if any) I had left.

The off season has been a case of working hard on my fitness (with hard being a relative term as the days of intense training are long gone) and netting as much as I can.

The fitness has gone really well. Time i.e. the fist few games will tell but I am fitter, stronger and more flexible and hopeful that I can manage the knees, hamstring, hips and shoulder better this season.

The nets at Edgbaston have been brilliant both for my cricket (batting and bowling) and for putting my cricketing future into perspective as I have spent the winter alongside fellow 50, 60 and 70 years olds, all of whom play senior cricket albeit for Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.

Not only have they all been very welcoming and encouraging, but the coaching has been really helpful, and it has been a confidence builder to be able to measure myself against players in the same age group(s) who have been playing cricket all those years I wasn’t.

The opinion, and even at 58 it does matter to get praise, is that they would be more than happy to have me in their team(s) bating 4 or 5 and bowling off spin.

As I am not eligible to play for any of their counties my Senior Cricket future lies where it should be, with Staffordshire and over the last couple of weeks I have started to get involved.

Staffordshire in 2022 will be fielding two competitive over 50s and over 60s teams and a new over 70s team who will play a few friendlies with a view to competing in 2023.

Aged 58 I become eligible for the Over 60s on my birthday, but as there are no league games after my birthday, and each team is only allowed one ‘under age’ player, my opportunities will be restricted to the occasional friendly and cup games in August.

Of course I am eligible for he Over 50s but I has assumed that I would not be good enough ……

Just over a week ago I was invited to their first pre season net, where both the Over 50s and Over 60s were practising, with two nets for each age group.

Being an early arrival I was asked to pad up first along with another guy – when will people realise I am NOT an opener!!! – and as he was already Over 60 I was directed to the Over 50s net, where I soon realised that a couple of the fast bowlers were indeed fast, still opened the bowling for their First Team and in one case had being playing minor counties cricket until 3 years ago. Was really chuffed with the way I batted. Not too many scoring shots but I wasn’t bowled, didn’t nick off, maybe had one close LBW but in general saw the ball well and got behind it, a point made (and much appreciated) by the two fast bowlers who were complimentary.

I have subsequently been to an Over 60s only net and the difference is noticeable. I have been given the fixtures for both Over 50s and Over 60s but whereas I am comfortable I would do well with the Over 60s I think the Over 50s would expose my lack of mobility in the field, probably not require my bowling, although I think I would do OK in the Second Team batting mid order.

Time, and availability, will tell. I would be more than happy to play a few games for the Over 50s but I have no expectations. There is a inter squad friendly match on the 26th April, and before that a Over 60’s friendly with Worcestershire on the 19th so I have order my kit from Duncan Fearnley (a familiar brand from the past which pleasingly is still going), and once again will turn up in the hope of a game. There is an Over 60s net on the 22 March, and then on the 3rd April I will get the chance to test myself against the Over 50s again.

For now I have to be content that I am heading in the right direction. This season will be another learning curve and will hopefully be one where I can perform within the limitations of my body and contribute with bat, ball and in the field. I really like the idea of playing once at a weekend in a mixed age group side and mid week in a seniors age group team. Who knows that may well happen this year, but the original expectation was that it would be next year, and however frustrating it may be that is the most realistic timeframe.

For now I am content with spending time with players of my own age group and getting involved.

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