Posted by Tony Hutton
Friday 7th July and a rare match for a Friday afternoon. The Australian over 60s are in town having embarked on an ambitious tour of England, Scotland and Wales which lasts for almost the whole of July. They had won their first two games earlier in the week and today were in Harrogate to face perhaps their strongest opposition so far, the Yorkshire over 60s. Having found their detailed schedule on their website the only thing that was missing was the start time. We turned up just after 1 p.m. for a 45 over a side game only to find the game had started at noon and the Aussies were already 50-4.
First thing on the agenda was to get hold of an excellent tour booklet with details of all the players who had played grade cricket of a good standard in their earlier careers. This also confirmed the tours of both England and Australia have been made almost every year since 2011 and that unofficially the winner of each series becomes the custodian of 'The Grey Ashes'. England hold the title after a successful tour last year. This year's tour includes three one day internationals with England and one each against Scotland and Wales.
However back to today's game and the Aussies were in a bit of trouble for the first time having already beaten East Anglia and Lincolnshire in their first two fixtures. Martin Ivill, the Yorkshire captain had already taken three of the four wickets to fall and with other league cricketers of renown like Mick Scott, Murphy Walwyn and Phil Taylor in their ranks the bowling looked well up to standard. Wickets continued to fall and with Australia 92-7 hopes of a Yorkshire victory were high.
This all changed as an eighth wicket partnership of 85 between vice captain Greg Quinn and Keith Christiansen who both scored fifties turned things around. Quinn retired on reaching his half century and Christiansen stayed there until the end. He was cheered on by his daughter and reach his fifty with four off the last ball of the innings. Australia 202 -7 in 45 overs - a challenging target.
The Yorkshire opening pair of John Flintoff and Martin Ivill batted with confidence against a varied Australian attack. They put on 59 for the first wicket when Ivill was bowled for 21 and continued to prosper when Miles Rawlings who still plays for one of the Harrogate teams at weekends joined Flintoff. They took the score to 138 with Flintoff doing most of the scoring and he was just six runs short of a century off 99 balls when he was dismissed.
A mid innings collapse then took place and the score plummeted from 138-1 to 140-5. This was largely due to some good bowling by skipper Murray Harrison who took four wickets for fifteen runs off six overs. Another wicket fell and Yorkshire were 169-6 after forty overs, so 34 required off the last five overs. Harrison chipped in with two more wickets for splendid figures of 6-27. Rex Bennett, who had earlier taken the vital wicket of Flintoff, finished the proceedings by bowling Phil Taylor in the last over. Yorkshire all out for 192 and Australia won by ten runs.
Excellent entertainment all round and a game that went to the wire was enjoyed by both teams.
The Australians play Durham at Burnopfield on Sunday and then go up to Scotland for two games at Stenhousemuir. After that they play Lancashire at Heywood on 14th July and the first one day international at Westhoughton on 16th July. They also play Cheshire at Cheadle Hulme on 17th July before venturing into Wales and then on into the Midlands.