Did you know that Yorkshire’s pedigree extends to the older age brackets in the County Championship too? We caught up with Yorkshire Over 60s captain Kevin Watson to discuss his club cricket background, captaincy approach and ambitions for this season.
Kevin began cricket as a junior at East Ardsley Cricket Club, back in the mid-1970s, when they were in the Central Yorkshire Cricket League.
Kevin has played for a variety of leagues and teams including Birstall, Brook-Walton and Wrenthorpe – the latter when they were at their rampaging best and one of the best sides in Yorkshire.
Alongside county duty, Kevin now turns out for Fairburn in Division 4 Ebor of the Yorkshire Premier League North. Play-Cricket tells me his last 2022 appearance in September against Church Fenton yielded 3 for 0 in four overs!
Watson describes himself as a ‘medium pace bowler who can bat’ and casually throws in that he hit a century in the CYCL back in the 80s and has a bowling-best of 9 for 21. It’s not a brag, I was curious about what role he played and it turns out to be a pivotal one.
‘I always loved cricket and football but chose cricket as my main sport. I captained Wrenthorpe at their peak in the mid-2000s with the likes of Gary Fellows, Craig White and David Paynter. After five years, I moved on to Brook-Walton, a new club that formed but only lasted four years before folding.’
That run of captaincy success at Wrenthorpe included lifting the Heavy Woollen Cup three times.
Image: John Heald – johnhealdphotography.co.uk
New chapter with Yorkshire Over 60s
It might have been 50 and out for Watson until the opportunity came knocking for a new experience: ‘I was ready to retire at 50 and wanted to bow out playing Premier League which I did at Birstall. But a chance conversation with Murphy Walwyn at a sportsmen dinner about Yorkshire 50s prolonged my career.’
After trials, Kevin made the Yorkshire Over 50s who won the County Championship in 2015. Work stopped him from making many appearances but in 2021, Watson began life with Yorkshire Over 60s.
There are actually two Yorkshire 60s sides – Yorkshire Veterans and Yorkshire Ridings – who both play in the same county group. John’s photo above is when the two played each other; a rare example of White Rose versus White Rose.
What’s the standard like?
Kevin reckons: ‘The standard is still very good; batting and bowling really good but as expected, the fielding isn’t as sharp nor running as quick.’
Last season saw Yorkshire Over 60s play 12 games in the Northern Group against the likes of Lancashire, Durham and Derbyshire with the top 2 qualifying for the last 16 knockout stages.
Yorkshire Veterans finished second behind Lancashire and then defeated Oxfordshire to book a quarter-final against Sussex. They came up short at Buxted Park, losing by 25 runs.
There is plenty of talent in Yorkshire’s ranks; seasoned club cricketers like John Flintoff who hit 153 not out last year at Elsecar Cricket Club against Lincolnshire Cricket Board.
Yorkshire 60+ are not new to England representation either, as Kevin explains:
‘We had three players who were selected for England last year: Myself, Martin Watkin (who was prolific with the bat) and John Goldthorp, our wicketkeeper and top-order batter who also scored lots last term. Both Martin and John toured Barbados with England recently.’
I noted that John Goldthorp managed three stumpings and a catch in the England Seniors Series match at Kensington Oval on 10 February the visitors won by 70 runs.
John plays for Pool Cricket Club in the Aire-Wharfe League while Martin (who hit a whopping 1,916 runs across all competitions in 2022) turns out for Hull Zingari 1st XI.
2023: Win everything?!
For Kevin, 2023 represents a first of a kind in that he’s taken over the captaincy of Yorkshire Over 60s from Martin Ivill.
‘Martin did the job superbly prior to me and they are big shoes to fill. My style is to involve everyone and get them enjoying the game to their full potential – but we play hard and to win.’
He added: ‘We start this year with the aim to win it as we do every year; we believe we are good enough to do it but the key moments will be the test of our progression and I can’t wait for the season to start.’
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