Two Gisborne men had the opportunity of a lifetime, representing the Australian Over-60 cricket team on a tour of England.
Dale Thornton and Paul McDonald represent different cricket clubs, but share the same home town.
They were part of the touring party which played against England, Pakistan and local English teams in July.
For both it was their first time representing Australia.
Thornton said he had never imagined playing cricket for Australia, let alone at the age of 61.
“Last season was my first playing in over-60s,” he said.
“I played at Gisborne and Essendon for many years. I was still playing McIntyre Cup until I was 54.
“A mate Dave Cordy, who had played for Australia in Over-60s, asked if I wanted to play at the Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Over-60s.
“I really enjoyed it.”
Thornton was selected in a Victorian team for the national championships for veterans last year which they won. They repeated the feat this year.
Making the Victorian team was exciting enough for Thornton, let alone being picked to play at the next level.
“I never really thought about it,” he said.
“They played New Zealand in March and I didn’t get on that one. They were still looking at me, as I’m still bowling, and mobile and batting.
“In late April I got a berth in the Australian team.”
The tour was 18 games, including three one-day matches against England for the “Grey Ashes”.
The English won the series 2-1.
McDonald, 63, was also surprised to get selected.
“I wasn’t pushing for it,” he said.
“They picked the team and I was playing well at the right time.
“It wasn’t the plan at all, but I’m glad it happened.”
McDonald stopped playing cricket in his 30s, before returning to the game when he was 55.
A friend suggested he join a local club and he has played seven seasons since.
McDonald said it was really enjoyable playing with the club.
“I say it’s Men’s Shed in whites, it’s really good.
“I’ve played for seven years now and played for Victoria twice and Australia this year.
“When I got picked for Australia, I thought I better practice and get fit.”
McDonald, who was an all rounder before a shoulder injury restricted him to just batting, said it was a good experience in England.
He said you could tell the England teams played a lot more cricket, with some playing two to three times a week.
“I did OK and I didn’t disgrace myself.”
Both men said they would love the opportunity to play for Australia again. The England team is due to tour Australia later this year.