Old Lincolnian earns call-up to England Over-60s tour Down Under
CRICKET crazy Mike Savage has vowed to put the Aussies in a spin when he competes in a Golden Oldies Festival Down Under later this year.
The Old Lincolnians spin wizard has been selected among the country's most talented players over the age of 60 and could yet make the full England squad that will lock horns with their great cricketing enemy in a five-Test Ashes showpiece.
At worst, the 62-year-old Lincolnshire Over-60s player will represent an England County XI and do battle against a host of other countries, including their Australian counterparts.
Following Andrew Strauss and Co's memorable Ashes victory Down Under earlier this year, Savage is keen to compound the Aussies' misery further.
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"There is a healthy competitive edge even at our age and I will really want to win," said Savage, who has represented the county at both over-50s and 60s level.
"I have never come across an Australian sports side that doesn't have a competitive streak. They will want to win.
"It is undecided at this stage whether I will get into the full England side or not but there are some very good players already in the squad so it is probably an outside chance at best. I would probably have to rely on a few injuries but of course I would love to.
"At the very least I will definitely be representing one of two England County sides and I am very excited about the opportunity."
Savage, who is treasurer at Lincoln Moorlands Railway FC , will jet off with the rest of his international team-mates at the start of November. Their tour is expected to kick off with an exhibition match in Shanghai, China before a series of 50-over matches in Australia – depending on which outfit Savage represents.
En route back, the teams complete their 21-day tour with an exhibition against Singapore counterparts.
"I received a letter of my invite and I was delighted," said Savage. "To be a part of anything like this is fantastic. It is a great opportunity.
"As far as I know the national cricket committee (ECB) decided they wanted to take a side to Australia, including a couple of county sides for good players who have competed regularly for club and county. I think I come into that bracket.
"I think they want to squeeze in 50 games in 21 days. My aim is to play as many games as my body allows me."
After securing tickets for the Brisbane and Adelaide Tests, Savage was one of the lucky few to experience England's first Ashes triumph on Australian soil for 24 years.
However, the keen Lincoln City fan insists there is no substitute for playing.
"Being in the crowd to watch those Test matches was such an enjoyable experience but I have to say that I am looking forward to this even more.
"I have watched England play in the West Indies and New Zealand, but again, I am looking forward to this far more.
"The beauty of something like this is that we all do it for the love of the game. We all have something in common which is our love for cricket and that is why it is so easy to make new friends on a tour like this."
The left armer has been notching over after over and maiden after maiden since he first spun a ball for Lincolnshire League outfit Old Lincolnians in 1968.
He used to work as an accountant in London but his love for cricket in the Imp County meant he returned home every weekend to play for his beloved club.
Savage's career best figures with the ball are seven for 20 and he is not shy with the blade either having hit several half-centuries over the years.
"I started as soon as I left school," said Savage, whose favourite all time player is West Indies legend Gary Sobers.
"Cricket is my favourite sport and I just do it because I enjoy it. I know a lot of people who should still be playing. I tell players they should play for as long as possible otherwise they will be a long time missing it.
"There are over-70s games going on even at international level and I want to keep playing for club and county for as long as my body holds out."
Asked for the reason behind such a lengthy career, Savage replied: "Enjoy the game for what it is. I tell my players to play the game in the spirit it should be. All too often now batsmen stay in their crease even after they have edged the ball to the wicketkeeper.
"The game of cricket was always known for its gentlemanly atmosphere and it should get back to that.
"County players, even at Minor Counties level, are unlikely to play on too long because they burn themselves out. But for club players like myself I believe players can play for as long as they want."