Stirling Hamman says veterans cricket a chance for cricketers to revisit dream of representing Australia

Eyes on the ball: Stirling Hamman in action for Monaro at the NSW over-70 state cricket titles in Port Macquarie. Photo: Paul Jobber
Eyes on the ball: Stirling Hamman in action for Monaro at the NSW over-70 state cricket titles in Port Macquarie. Photo: Paul Jobber

The fastest-growing demographic in Australian cricket is creating more opportunities for players to revisit their goal of one day wearing Australia's coveted Baggy Green cap.

Stirling Hamman said the emergence of the masters form of the game is to be congratulated for its ability to reinvigorate players who thought their days representing at the top level were over.

The Monaro top-order batsman is on the Mid-North Coast this week as the NSW over-70 state cricket titles take centre stage in Port Macquarie, Wauchope and Kempsey.

"I've seen blokes break down when they receive their Australian cap," Hamman said.

"Everybody wants to play cricket for Australia as a kid because it's Australia's number one game, but when you get to your early 20s you realise that maybe you're not going to be in that select 12.

Just under 500 players in history have had the privilege of donning the baggy green and those who don't make it play out their career at club, shire or park level.

"Everybody wants to play cricket for Australia as a kid because it's Australia's number one game, but when you get to your early 20s you realise that maybe you're not going to be in that select 12."

Stirling Hamman

Most players leave the game in their 30s as the focus shifts to family life, but Hamman said over-50 cricket was the way forward.

"All of a sudden you wake up and you're in your 50s or 60s, your children are off your hands, the mortgage is under control, you're the boss and have a bit more time over your work," he said.

"There's just you and the missus at home doing the gardening and going out and all of a sudden someone rings you up and says come and play mature-age cricket."

For the last decade there has been an international pathway created and now players can represent Australia at over-50, over-60 or over-70 level.

The over-50 division has seen two World Cups - one was held in 2018 in Sydney and the most recent was last year in Cape Town - which resulted in an increase in countries competing from eight to 12.

"There's now a pathway there for people who are good enough," Hamman said.

"It's the fastest-growing demographic in cricket in Australia. You go along, rediscover the mantra of teamwork, good fun, pulled muscles and sore backs.

"It's a magnificent past-time because it's an aerobic sport and you have a lot of fun so I recommend it to anybody approaching 50."

"There's now a pathway there for people who are good enough."

Stirling Hamman

Hamman's love of cricket extends to his own private cricket ground located south-west of Newcastle at Mandalong on the western side of Lake Macquarie.

It played host to a veterans test match between Australia and Wales in 2018, but players such as Michael Clarke, Phil Hughes and Brendon McCullum have spend time out in the middle.

"I said to the wife in 1993 'let's buy a block of land and build a cricket ground'," Hamman said.

"She said 'that's fine sweetheart, what time will you be home' ... she was always supportive of me and she passed away last year.

"It's got turf wickets and electronic scoreboard and a lot of great players have played there."

Hamman said the most satisfying part about building a private ground was the enjoyment it provided to a lot of cricketers.

"It's a lot of work, but the key thing is that it provides an opportunity for people to have fun," he said.

"In this world with so many bad stories and dreadful things happening, the more fun you can create that makes everybody happy makes me happy and would make my wife very happy.

"Everybody is invited to come and play, just get hold of someone in the cricket fraternity, ring them up and we'll get you a game."