This page deals with international over-50s cricket involving New Zealand.
For domestic over-50s cricket (IPT, North Island vs South Island, etc.,) please click here.
Australian tour of New Zealand - February 2018
Over-50s cricket started in New Zealand in September of 2017, when the Australian Over-50s announced their intention to tour NZ and needed a team to play against.
With no existing infrastructure or database of players, initial efforts were made to assemble a national side from a handful of nominations. The net was cast as wide as was possible at the time, with some support from New Zealand Cricket and the NZCPA, plus word-of-mouth contacts. However, the selection process was limited and there were no opportunities for trial matches.
Consequently, the XI that took the field in Nelson in February of 2018 was a somewhat random assortment of players. Established former first-class cricketers like Richard Petrie, Andrew Nuttall, Adrian Dale and Dean Askew lined up alongside club players. The Australian side was not fully representative either, due to political issues in that country. Nevertheless, when Askew bowled the first ball to Australian opener Andrew Knight, there was no doubt that all players were fully motivated and considered these to be full international matches.
Australia scored 151 on a slow Marsden Rec wicket, with Nuttall (4/15 from 10 overs) and Wanganui off-spinner Martin Pennefather (3/22 from 10) doing the damage. Nuttall - already 60 years of age but still a masterful slow left-arm bowler - showed an ability to both contain and take wickets, while Pennefather's seemingly innocuous offies were unfailingly accurate. Australian batsman Peter Solway scored 66 on his debut. Nuttall and Solway have since gone on to be two of the stars of the over-50s game at the international level.
The untested NZ top order didn't last long against some lively Australian bowling and NZ was quickly 17/3 and then 34/4. Local boy Mason Robinson dug in and started to counter-attack with some trademark punches and on-drives. At 104/8 the chase still looked like a lost cause, but Askew whistled two sixes into the trees and the score was suddenly 137/8 - only 15 runs short. However, the experienced Greg Briggs snaffled Askew and Robinson (for a gutsy 59) in quick succession and the Kiwis finished an agonising 13 runs short.
Cyclone Gita caused the cancellation of the second match, meaning that New Zealand had to win the third match to claim a share of the newly minted Stirling Hamman Trophy. The venue was the beautiful but tiny Titoki CC ground. Australia never got going (Solway top-scored with 24), as Nuttall (3/14 from 7) and Petrie (3/16 from 10) protected the short boundaries. The Aussie total of 116 should never have been enough and New Zealand won comfortably, reaching the target for the loss of 6 wickets. Each of the teams had registered their first wins at this level, with Australia having lost all three of the international matches on its UK tour in 2017.
For more on these matches, please click here. The scorecards are available for Match 1 and Match 2. SkyTV did a piece on the series for The Cricket Show [video quality not great].
The fact that this series was played at the end of the 2017/18 season meant that further trials were again impossible before the next international assignment - the 2018 Over-50s World Cup. Despite some players having had only one chance to state their claim, several changes were made to the squad that would head to Sydney in November of 2018.
World Cup Warm-up Matches - October 2018
Prior to departing for that trip, the NZ squad played two warm-up matches against the Riverina Over-50s side from New South Wales. Riverina lost to a Canterbury Over-50s side, with Graeme Inglis responding to his exclusion from the World Cup squad with an elegant match-winning 51* on his home ground. The New Zealand XI (missing a couple of players) did not excel against the tourists, managing 185/9 in the first game (ex-Wellington player and indoor cricket legend Robbie Kerr top-scoring with 55) but the Canterbury left-arm spin duo of Nuttall (4/31) and Hamish Kember (3/9) rolled the tourists for 132.
In the second match, at Burnside Park, New Zealand did a bit better, hitting 204, led by aggressive 60s from Mike Jamieson and Petrie, before dismissing the Aussie club side for 156 (Dave Leonard 3/12, Nuttall 2/19).
2018 Over-50s World Cup
While these performances were not convincing, it was a confident New Zealand side that headed to the inaugural Over-50s World Cup under the captaincy of Auckland’s Nigel Fletcher. The team was sponsored by Forum8, a Japanese software company.
The Greycaps’ first opposition was a strong Pakistan side that included 4 ex-internationals. Those 4 did most of the scoring as Pakistan recovered from 167/6 after 35 overs to record an excellent 231/9 from 45. Dale (3/45) and Nuttall (3/41) were the pick of the bowlers. New Zealand made a poor start, losing Brent Fleming, Jamieson and Fletcher to be 12/3 after 7 overs. At 37/5, Robinson joined Dale and the two put on a fantastic 110-run partnership, playing the spinners particularly well, to bring NZ back into contention. Former county pro Dale fell for 61 but Robinson pushed on. When he fell for 75 (78 balls), New Zealand were 195/8 and required 36 from 4 overs, but couldn’t quite get home. Scorecard.
Match 2 would be no easier, against the fancied hosts Australia at Bexley Oval. New Zealand won the toss and batted first this time. Jamieson again fell early, for a duck, and when Fletcher was stumped for 4 they were tottering at 60/4. Another resilient partnership, this time 92 from debutants David Fulton (63) and Kerr (48), helped NZ to a reasonable 171/7. This proved insufficient, as the clinical Solway (83) took the Aussies home. It was a close-run thing, however, as the Kiwis grabbed 8 wickets on the way, three to the scrappy Lincoln Doull (3/32), and dropping Solway at a crucial time could have made the difference. Scorecard.
With two losses from two matches, the Greycaps needed to turn things around quickly to have a chance of making the semis. Against Canada, Adrian Dale showed his class with a superb 102, stroking the ball all around the stunning Rosedale Oval (watch him bring up his ton here). Kerr was typically busy en route to 50 from 40 balls. The unpredictable Canadians made a great chase of 230, with Shantha Jayasekera’s 61 nearly getting them home. A decent all-round bowling effort from NZ, particularly from Pete Escott and Fulton at the death, was enough to get the team in black home. Scorecard.
Escott was again to the fore against Wales, taking 4/13 and reducing the Welsh to 153. Richard Petrie made his first appearance of the tournament following injury, and he and Robinson (also returning from injury) put on 121 for the first wicket in a new-look opening partnership. Both made 60s and New Zealand had a comfortable win. Scorecard. Watch highlights here.
The match against Sri Lanka was abandoned after heavy rain, so the next match was against England, out of town at the beautiful and historic Bradman Oval in Bowral. Led by a stroke-filled 97 from Simon Myles, England reached a good score of 232/8, with the wickets shared around. Another good partnership from Petrie and Robinson gave NZ a solid base, but they fell behind the run rate in the process. From 88/0, the middle order failed and when Petrie (64) fell at 126/6, the game was all but lost. New Zealand finished on a paltry 173 as England’s star all-rounder Stephen Foster nabbed 6/30. Scorecard.
Needing to beat the battle-weary South Africans to qualify for the semis, the Kiwis put in a solid performance. Five of the six bowlers took 2 wickets each as SA struggled to 176. Petrie (70), Robinson (66) and Leonard (25) were all not out as NZ cruised home with 8 wickets in hand. Scorecard.
This set up a semi-final rematch against Australia on a batting paradise at Hurstville Oval. Australia raced to 63 after 10 overs, as Trent Ryan and the seemingly undismissable Peter Solway scored runs at will. When Solway did eventually fall, for 88, the damage had been done and the Australian total of 273/6 was an intimidating one. None of the Kiwi bowlers were spared. Needing 6 an over from the outset, New Zealand started well too and were 62/1 after 11. Dale batted beautifully again, top-scoring with 76, receiving good support from Robinson (34), Kerr (38) and Escott (28). With 5 overs to go, 46 were needed with 3 wickets in hand. The equation got tighter and eventually tail-enders Doull and Pennefather needed 17 off the last over, to be bowled by Aussie veteran Tim Sargent. Twelve runs were somehow scrambled off the first five balls, including some great hits down the ground – and suddenly New Zealand needed 6 to win off the last ball … with tournament ambassador Trevor Chappell watching from the stands. Pennefather’s wild heave went most of the way to the boundary but not far enough and he was caught, ending a thrilling game. You can watch the final over here. Scorecard.
Australia went on to win the final against Pakistan and New Zealand, beaten but not bowed, returned home to learn some lessons and regroup.
2020 Over-50s World Cup
After a lot of hype and build-up, the 2020 Over-50s World Cup took place in Cape Town, South Africa in March of 2020. The number of teams had expanded from 8 to 12, with traditional powerhouses India and West Indies joining the party. There was a tournament sponsor, lots of media coverage, tournament ambassadors such as Barry Richards and Graeme Pollock, and all games were live-streamed.
With a strong-looking team, New Zealand entered the tournament as one of the favourites. Barry Richards presented the new players with their caps before the start of the first match, against the West Indies. The favouritism seemed justified, as the Kiwis cruised along in the first 20 overs. However, the run out of John Garry for 34 precipitated a collapse from 124/2 to 186 all out as the Windies spinners made things tough on a quickly wearing pitch. Only Dale (56) passed 50. The target was a middling one and the aggressive West Indies start (29/0 after 5 overs) had some warning signs flashing. Slow left-arm spinner Glen White had other ideas and he took two LBWs off successive balls, one being the key wicket of Sudesh Dhaniram (this video shows that he nearly made it a hat-trick). From then on, New Zealand wrested control. Neil Ronaldson bowled straight with good pace and snaffled 4/18, while Nuttall bowled as masterfully as ever, taking 2/14 from 9 overs. Scorecard. Video highlights. Full match video.
The second match was a wonderful occasion due to the incredible welcome given by the students and staff of Milnerton High School. The cricket itself was less entertaining, as New Zealand found run-scoring difficult on a very slow pitch and slow outfield. Usually a free-scoring batsman, Richard Petrie ground his way to 36 from 95 balls as the Kiwis did well to get 157/7 from their 45 overs. The Canadians were confident at the break, but the wicket was only getting more difficult. They never got going and fell away from 31/2 to 59 all out as all the bowlers dominated. Nuttall (4/10 off 8.4 overs) was again to the fore, while new boy Stephen Hewson proved virtually impossible to hit, taking 1/8 from 7 overs. Scorecard. Video highlights. Full match video.
All seemed good going into the third match, against Zimbabwe. Dean Askew trapped ex-international Eddo Brandes LBW in the third over and only some late hitting took Zimbabwe to 144/8, with the wickets shared around. Scorecard. Video highlights. Full match video.
Then, at the innings break, came the bad news that the COVID-19 pandemic had forced the cancellation of the tournament. It was a shock to all involved, but the World Cup was done, effective immediately. With borders closing and isolation measures being implemented, there was a quick scramble for the players and supporters to get home. It was a tremendously sad end to the tournament, given all the efforts put in by all involved.
For all scorecards, stats and much more from the 2020 Over-50s World Cup, please click here.