Competition in the fastest growing sport in the Australia is heating winter up with the first veterans over 50s cricket game to be held in Bundaberg on Sunday.
The Wide Bay Veteran Cricket Over 50s team will test the stumps as players converge to Kendall Flat for its first game ever to be played in the Bundaberg Region.
Over 50s team manager Ross Pegg said the sport was growing rapidly with the amount of state teams almost doubling since last year.
“There was eight teams in competition last year and now there’s 14,” Ross said.
“Nine of the 12 players in the Over 50s Wide bay team are from Bundy.”
Veterans Cricket came from small beginnings as an Over 60’s group in 2006, now the sport has grown on a national level with three age groups, from Over 50s to Over 70s, and holds separate national championships on an annual basis.
Ross said it was more than just a competition to the men involved and gave a unique blend of camaraderie along with the competitive spirit.
“Playing for the Vets gives you a chance to meet new players, we play by normal cricket rules but we retire at 50 runs,” he said.
Born to play
Playing cricket is in teammate Bruce Worthington’s blood; he started playing almost 50 years ago.
Worthington said he started playing cricket as an 11 year old and now at 58 still enjoyed competing in the Div 1 side against 16 year olds.
“I’m really personally proud – the fact I can still get out there and match it against the youngster,” Bruce said.
“To still be playing at that level locally makes me proud.”
He said the Over 50s Wide Bay team was on another level, but took a lot of dedication from players as it was self-funded.
“This is the second year for a winter competition and the first time in Bundaberg, which is great,” he said.
“There is a little bit of travel involved, down to the Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Brisbane, there’s cost involved, so definitely dedication.”
For those with a competitive streak there is the opportunity to represent the State and National titles, but the emphasis of veterans cricket is on participation.
Bruce said the games held on Sunday would be trials for the State team.
“Performance over winter helps for the selection and I am hoping to make it,” he said.
“Out of the 14 teams there’s a chance to be chosen for the Queensland side, which will later play in Perth.
“It’s really something players strive for.”
From the national championships, Australian sides are selected in the respective age groups to compete against international teams at home and on overseas tours.
Since commencing, the sport has attracted a high level of interest across all States and provides an opportunity for Australia’s ageing population to gather and celebrate all that is great about it’s the national sport.
Veterans cricket benefits
The benefits to the participants of veterans cricket are huge.
For men in their senior years it encourages activity, promoting improved levels of physical fitness, social and mental wellbeing and general health.
Ross said if the momentum for the sport continued he hoped there would be two Wide Bay teams next year.
The competition between the Over 50’s Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast teams gets underway 10am, Sunday at Kendall Flat, everyone welcome.
- In April it was announced Bundaberg Regional Council was partnering with AFL Queensland and Queensland Cricket to develop a Kendall Flat master plan, read about it here.
- Other news: Veteran health and wellbeing in the spotlight