Highlands Veterans cricketers made their first appearance at a NSW State Championships recently.
The team entered the over 60s division one in the carnival held at Penrith.
The opening game was against a strong mid-North Coast/Coffs Harbour team. The Highlands did well to restrict the opposition to eight for 146 from their 40 overs. It could have been even better but there were some missed opportunities on the field.
Rod Watling (1 for 17 from 7 overs) and John Morris (0 for 9 from 7 overs) were particularly impressive opening the bowling. Other wicket takers were Ray Sharman (1 for 16), Chris Ford (2 for 22), Grant Lewis (1 for 13) and Allan Drummond (2 for 27).
Highlands were set a gettable total but unfortunately the batsmen were not up to the task. They were three for 22 early on and looked for a lengthy partnership between gun batsmen Peter Jensen and Rod van Beek but van Beek was caught behind for 13. Jensen could not find anyone else to stay with him apart from Watling who made 17.
It was disappointing for Jensen whose captain’s knock of 41 retired stood out while his team capitulated for 98, only batting for 23 overs. The second game was against a strong Newcastle team. There was a noticeable improvement in the standard of fielding, appreciated by Watling and Morris who again bowled tightly, Morris taking 2 for 26 from his seven overs and Watling 1 for 26.
While Flemming and Strachan both retired at the compulsory 40 they never found it easy to score and Newcastle finished on 5-169 from their allotted overs.
Both van Beek and Jensen snagged a wicket, Grant Lewis took a fine catch and Jensen executed a good runout.
In reply Highlands lost Ward and Drummond fairly early but Jensen and Norm Stanton came together with Jensen again in imperious form, peeling off another 40 retired.
Stanton found a staunch ally in Chris Ford before retiring for 36 and Highlands battled on gamely to fall 15 runs short in the 40th over with Ford not out on 38. It was a game that proved Highlands could be competitive in the top division.
A rest day followed and the third game was against Port Jackson White, with Highlands batting first to be 6 down for 170 at the end of 40 overs. Jensen continued his outstanding form to chalk up his third retirement score of 40 and this time had useful support from van Beek (27), Mark Preddy (23) and Frank Nevill who hit lustily to retire on 41. In reply Port Jackson made the runs in the 37th over with just two wickets down. Ray Sharman was the pick of the bowlers with 1 for 20 from 6 overs.
The Highlands finished the carnival with a win when they played division 2 side Western Wildfires. The drop in class was appreciated as Highlands made their highest total – 176 for the loss of just three wickets.
Brian Martin and Rod Watling made a great start with a partnership of 45, Watling being caught for 30 and Martin retiring for 38.
Steve Ward carried on the good work before retiring for 21 while Fred Latham and Rob Crough each made 16 and Frank Nevill continued his good form to strike 33 not out.
Wildfires batted solidly enough as Jensen used eleven bowlers but fell nine runs short as they were dismissed for 167 after 39 overs.
Preddy and Martin had good all-round performances as they took two wickets each.
- Norman Stanton