A pair of Nelson cricketers are proving it’s never too late to play for your country.
David Leonard and Mason Robinson will represent New Zealand at the inaugural over-50s World Cup in Sydney starting this week.
David, 52, will be one of the sides opening bowling and middle order batting options while Mason, also 52, will keep wicket and bat at first drop.
The New Zealand squad of 16 features nine former first class cricketers, including David who played for Central Districts.
David made over 60 appearances for Central but says wearing a Black Cap will be his career highlight.
“Representing your country in anything is special.”
The tournament will be similar to the World Cup with the only difference being the colour of the ball and the number of overs.
“It’s normal one day cricket but just five less overs and we use a pink ball.”
While the men say the bodies don’t move as fast and no one can bowl as quick, the batting talent stays around.
“There is an amazing level of skill with the bat shown and the bowlers become more wily,” David says.
They say the squad is a well balanced one, with a number of multi-skilled all-rounders.
“Everyone can bat too.”
Mason will have to see off Robbie Kerr, father of White Ferns star Amelia, to make the starting lineup.
David says he has set himself and the side some goals for Sydney.
“To do well personally, to contribute and for the team to win.”
Mason says the competitive nature of the players doesn’t wane with age.
“Everyone wants to win.”
The pair say hosts Australia will no doubt prove its toughest challenge but, if the February series was any indication, the Grey Caps will match up.
The team will be playing their first matches together since they first assembled in Nelson in February for a three-match series against the Aussies.
The series was affected by Cyclone Gita, with one match rained out.
However the two teams each won one of the remaining games in two closely fought contests.
“We sent them home packing after a big win in February,” Mason says.
The squad will be based at Paramatta and its World Cup schedule will be quite demanding, with nine 45-over games in 15 days.
New Zealand’s first game is on November 21 against Pakistan, with the final scheduled for December 5.
Follow the teams progress at https://www.facebook.com/nz050s/