Leather on willow
PUBLISHED: 10:09 23 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:09 23 June 2015
As the Australians arrive for another Ashes summer of cricket, they will be bringing with them an Over 60s team ready to play in Essex. Terry Sims explains why there is no age limit to playing cricket in Essex
The county of Essex is one corner of the country where cricket is at its most popular. Whether you are eight or 80, there is the chance to get a game and seniors cricket, in particular, is alive and well in Essex.
You may not even realise that Essex has not only an Over 60s team that plays competitively, but also an Over 70s team. In fact, during an outstanding season last year the Over 60s 1st XI won the National Seevent Championship, beating 28 other counties, and this side has been ranked among the top three teams in the country for the last few years. The Essex Over 70s XI also competed in national competition for the first time last year and reached the semi-final of their competition.
Essex seniors cricket comprises an Essex Over 60s 1st XI and 2nd XI, plus an Over 70s XI. The three teams compete in three separate competitions, each commencing within geographical groups. The top teams in each group then progress to the play offs on a national basis. Each team plays weekly and travels around the country to the various away matches. At the play off stages they travel to counties as far afield as Devon and Yorkshire, which involves early starts and lots of travelling (all at the players’ own expense).
The Essex home venues include clubs such as Halstead, Chingford, Loughton, Frinton, Gidea Park & Romford, Little Baddow and Belhus. Supporters are always welcome at the matches, so feel free to come along.
The playing standard is high with most players having played, and in some cases are still playing, in competitive league club cricket. Many players across all counties have progressed from Over 50s County Cricket. The idea of starting an Over 60s competition came to fruition in 2003, initially for southern counties, but by 2009 the competition had become national. The Over 70s section soon followed, with so many players refusing to hang up their boots in their later years.
And the came has gone international now, with an Australian side touring England this season to coincide with the Ashes. Fixtures are planned for Over 60s and Over 70s. Essex is hosting the first Over 60s Test Match against Australia at Halstead Cricket Club on Sunday, June 21 with three Essex Over 60s 1st X1 players having been selected to play for England in this match, namely Amarjit Lall, Nigel Bloch and captain Terry Sims (never heard of him!).