Essex Seniors set for another exciting summer

While the summer might still seem some way off for cricket spectators, players and enthusiasts, behind the scenes there is already a hive of activity in preparation for the 2022 season.

In some cases, net sessions are well underway. Groundsmen, protective of their prized greenery, assess what the winter has left them to do, while administrative types formulate floorless plans, hopefully ensuring a seamless campaign for those they serve, largely in an unsung manner.

And it’s no different where Essex County Cricket Club’s successful Seniors (Over 60s and Over 70s) are concerned: “We have started nets and are practising every Tuesday,” Over 70s first XI Captain, Terry Sims enthused.

“As well as loosening up ahead of the new season, it’s a good social for the lads. We spend a fair bit of time catching up on what is going on around the circuit.

Sims has been involved with Essex for almost two decades, both as a player and administrator: “I started with 50s cricket back in 2003. When the youngsters come along, you end up getting pushed out of the team. The youngsters took over but then the 60s cricket came along.

“Since then, I’ve been involved with the 60s and now 70s cricket for twelve or thirteen years.

“My current role is, not only on the administration side as the county rep but also as captain of the over 70s first-team,” he added.

A club player with Old Southendian & Southchurch, Terry explained the notable growth of senior’s cricket at Essex: “The current project includes six teams, all taking part in national championship competitions. We are at the stage of the year where we are booking grounds. There is the best part of fifty home venues to sort out.

“We have our usual venues and clubs we approach. We are down to single figures in terms of getting pitches booked.

“At the moment, we are busy signing up new players and getting the squads organised.

“We’ve gone from having three teams to six over a period of five years. Four over 60s teams and two over 70s. With over 120 players in our membership now, we are faced with the situation where it is quite challenging to be aware of all our players’ skills and abilities. Each team has a manager, charged with the task of identifying who are the best players to select for that team.”

There’s plenty to think about before a ball is bowled: “The fixtures are sorted out by the end of February and availabilities are confirmed in March,” Terry added.

“As you can imagine selection is a big issue. We have a giant spreadsheet, logging who is available and when. Come the end of March, we have another meeting to pencil in who is going to be playing for what team.

The 72-year-old highlighted his other roles in the game: “I’m the coordinator if you like. The county representative. We have a central committee. All our instructions come down from above. I’m the guy who has to make sure Essex do all the right things to comply with the constitution and all the rules of the competition.

“We have rules about ages and who can play in what team. For example, the over 60s are allowed one 59-year-old in each team, while the 70s are allowed a couple of 69-year-olds. All of those things have to be looked after.”

Nevertheless, the club has flourished and developed at a rate of knots: “The snowball effect has been the fact that once you get to a certain size, existing players introduce new players from their club environment.

“Over a period of time, we have grown to the point I can almost walk down the high street, pass one of our players and perhaps not realise he is one of us. It is a big animal to manage.

A life-long Essex supporter, siting fellow wicketkeeper, Brian ‘Tonker’ Taylor as his all-time favourite, Terry is left in little doubt as to what representing the county means to him: “Oh, it means absolutely everything.

“We are also proud to have had six of seven of us represent England over time and I have very fond memories of being part of a winning team against the Aussies.”

“My roots are in Essex. I love cricket. I’m totally polarised in the game. I don’t know an awful lot about other sports like rugby and boxing. I know a little bit about football, but yes, I’m cricket-mad.”

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]