Thwaites, 65, salvages a little pride for Town

Wise words: Neil Thwaites talks to Henry Butterworth during Saturday's derby match against Bridgeholme
Wise words: Neil Thwaites talks to Henry Butterworth during Saturday's derby match against Bridgeholme
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The glorious uncertainty of cricket means that 65-year-old Old Town secretary Neil Thwaites has no plans to bin his whites anytime soon.

Thwaites has been playing since he was a junior in the early 1960s and showed he could still make an impact when saving a little face for the Boston Hill club’s first team in Division Two of the Foster’s Halifax League on Saturday.

Old Town, who have won only one game out of 13 in the league this summer, looked set for a 10-wicket hiding at the hands of visitors and title contenders Bridgeholme.

The Eastwood side had drawn level with Old Town’s disappointing 93 all out total, which included a six-boundary 31 from Thwaites, with Ben Fielden (61 no) and Yasir Mahmood (22 no) seemingly about to wrap up a 10-wicket win.

Thwaites takes up the story. “Our captain said ‘Neil throw one up.’

“I had not bowled for 10 years but I threw the ball down as quickly as I could off three paces.

“It went down the leg side and I thought it would have been a wide and game over.

“But umpire was kind and said he would let me off.

“The second ball was hit up in the air (from Mahmood) and caught.

“The next ball was played and the third hit for four to finish the game. It was all quite amusing,” said Thwaites.

Remarkably, Thwaites is not even the oldest player at his club.

“Chris Hagues is three months older than me,” said Thwaites, adding that his long-time teammate was an infrequent player nowadays.

As for his love of the sport Thwaites said: “I’ve always enjoyed playing cricket - I play to win but with a smile.

“It is great game and things happen in cricket that don’t happen anywhere else - mainly funny, sometimes hilarious and sometimes a bit serious.”

Thwaites, who lives in Mytholmroyd, brushes off suggestions that he might be getting over the hill.

“I’ve never ever been fit, although I can still run a three. It has to be a three rather than a two, because I’d be too tired to face the next ball!

“There will come a time when I’ll think ‘that’s it’ and give up. But I’ve always said I would play if I’m good enough to be picked.”

Thwaites, whose son Paul travels from York to play, said it had been a tough year for Old Town. The seconds are also at the foot of the table, in spite of the club having around 50 players signed on.

“We will aim to avoid the bottom two but if we don’t manage it I don’t think the league would kick us out,” he said. “We have a sound club and a sound base.”

Hagues is the “club supremo”, according to Thwaites, and he and his wife Ann run a Cricket Cafe from the clubhouse during the week which brings in revenue.

Another unusual feature of Old Town CC is that they have a man of the cloth among their playing ranks. The Vicar of Hebden Bridge, Howard Pask, is rated an unorthodox but effective wicketkeeper who can also bat a bit.