Highlands Veterans Cricket recently held its season launch at Bradman Pavilion ahead of its busiest season ever, with participation in the NSW Over 60s carnival and in the new Vintage Cricket competition being highlights.
Over twenty veterans and their partners heard newly elected president David Wells welcome everybody to season 2019/20 with plenty of enthusiasm for the program ahead.
Wells was elected along with Peter Jensen as secretary and Norm Stanton as treasurer at the Annual General Meeting held in May and much has happened since then.
A well-attended working bee was held with the owners to tidy the amenities and dethatch the wicket at Highlands home ground, Chater Oval in preparation for a busy home schedule.
This will include hosting a match between Southern NSW and the touring England Over 60s in November which will be closely followed by an Over 60s International at Bradman Oval.
Highlands first ever Australian Over 60s representatives, Peter Jensen and Ian Bradburn, returned from their successful tour of England and no doubt will be pressing for a place in the home Test match.
They, along with Gary Whittaker, Rod van Beek, Chris Ford and Rod Watling were selected in NSW sides to play in the national Over 60s championships at the beginning of November.
While David Babbage, John Morris, Allan Drummond and Norm Stanton will be playing for NSW in the Australian Over 70s Championships to be held in Albury just a couple of weeks later.
Highlands have also selected a strong team to play in the NSW Over 60s Championships to be held in Maitland in only a few weeks' time.
This will be Highlands third state championships, and whilst they struggled on the first occasion, last season they fielded a much stronger team to win all three pool games and progress to the final where they lost to a very strong Penrith team in a rain-affected final.
Highlands will be looking to go one better this time.
The usual home and away games in season 2019/20 will be complemented by participation in the inaugural year of the Vintage Over 60s league which will feature mainly Sydney-based teams in what will be a closely fought, more serious series of matches.
Highlands will be looking to field a strong combination for these home and away fixtures but may see less of star all-rounder Whittaker who is now head coach of North Sydney's grade club, and will also miss arguably the club's best - and certainly most enthusiastic - fielder in Marty Dubler who is sidelined with a back complaint.
Nonetheless the likes of Jensen, Bradburn, van Beek, Grant Lewis and Mark Preddey should still see Highlands field competitive teams in a challenging season to further develop Highlands' reputation in the veteran cricket community.
The playing season begins this weekend with a social match between the Over 60s and Highlands Over 50s who are hoping to grow the younger cohort as the season progresses since there are plenty of opportunities for them at both home and away and representative levels.