Team spirit the key for Worcestershire Over-70s

John Brookes
Opener John Brookes in action for the Worcestershire Over-70s.

A Worcestershire county cricket team for players aged over 70 already has a great team spirit, according to their captain.

The veterans, formed this year, have only played two games but have won both of them.

Skipper George Batty, father of former Worcestershire and England spinner Gareth, told BBC Hereford and Worcester: "Some of them have been playing with and against each other for 50 years.

"I am delighted with the way we have started. We have some great guys.

"Some of them don't get a bat or a bowl, but they don't moan and that's the strength of our team.

"We have a good bowling side. I am delighted with the standard.

"We ache the next day, but mentally we think we are as good as ever."

The oldest player is 77-year-old Tony Neel, who admits his love of the game keeps him going.

"I enjoy the company of the people I play with, they are a really nice gang of lads.

"I have known Tudgy (Pete Tudge) for 55 or more years. When we were kids, we knew each other, and here we are playing cricket together all these years later."

Neel can recall his first ever game of cricket: "It was in 1949. I can't remember if I was 14 or 15 at the time, but it was for Rushwick.

"In those days you only got a bowl if the team were going to win, or lose, as it was very much a man's game and we were only boys."

Neel still plays league cricket on Saturdays, and admits to playing four games in a week in mid-summer as he also turns out for the over-60s' second team.

"I'll play for as long as I think I am contributing, if I am not I'll take up umpiring," he added.

Yorkshireman Batty's two sons, Jeremy and Gareth, who spent eight seasons with Worcestershire and played seven Tests for England, both played first-class cricket.

"They think I am crackers," said Batty Snr. "I don't get much encouragement from them, but they have not seen a game and I think they might change their minds if they do."

Worcestershire romped to a 10-victory in their last game against Berkshire and Hertfordshire.

They take on Sussex at Malvern Cricket Club on Monday (27 June).