By Desmond Devitt
Both Barry Peay and Dave Morris are Sussex League umpires and both have featured in the England Over-70 games in the 2014 season – Dave as umpire and Barry as a player.
Dave has stood in a number of Martlets games over the past ten years – often the East Sussex ones close to his home in Herstmonceux.
Barry Peay has been a Martlets umpire for ten years and unbeknown to many, at the age of 71 not only continues to play cricket himself, but represents England in the over-70s. Last summer he played in the “Tests” against Wales. The series was lost 2-1, but Barry top scored in the first game with 33* in the third game, which England won.
Both Derek Semmence and Andy Meads have also played for the Sussex over 70s, proving that, in this anniversary year of ‘The Great War,’ Martlets cricketers never die either. Over 70’s cricket started in 2010 with three sides: Sussex, Surrey/Kent and Hertfordshire/Berkshire. Each side played three games against each other. Sussex won all six.
Gradually there has been expansion and the 2014 competition had ten sides playing in two divisions with home and away games. Semi-finals followed, involving the top two clubs of each division and then a final. Sussex won this last season in a match against Worcestershire. Maybe it is something to do with the air, but good old Sussex-by-the-sea have won four of the five Championships to date, with Worcestershire being winners in 2013 (and Sussex were runners up).
Two more counties will be in the 70+ competition in 2015, making a total of 12 in 2 divisions for the first time.
Test matches started in 2013 with a series of three games against Australia. England won two of the games, with the third being rained off without a ball bowled.
In 2014 a series of three Test matches against the Wales over 65’s was played, which Wales won 2-1. There was some ‘flexibility’ in the Welsh side – by agreement I hasten to say.
There has been quite some controversy regarding the staging of a return Ashes tour to Australia leading to its abandonment.
‘Recycling’ (retirement after 50 runs) was proposed by the hosts, but violently rejected by the English management. There are still arguments about underage players – originally one 68 year old was allowed, but this is being phased out and only genuine 70+ year olds on the day will be permitted in future.
With regards the standards, the batsmen are good, as are the slow bowlers too. There are few bowlers of any pace, whilst fielding and running between wickets, both lack athleticism (to put it mildly!).
Clearly this is just the time for older Martlets to wind themselves up and start the ball rolling by playing “Senior” Martlets cricket. There are four matches planned for 2015. Those dreams of playing for England could still come true! Adrian Ford is waiting to hear from you. And if Barry or Dave are umpiring, you never know, they might put in a good word for you.