Martin Pennefather has played for Whanganui’s United club for 40 years.
Whanganui cricketer Martin Pennefather has left for “the trip of a lifetime” as part of the New Zealand over-60s team.
They will line up against 13 others for the Over-60s Cricket World Cup in
Pennefather said he took part in a provincial tournament which decided who would make the cut.
“I’ve only just ticked over 60, so that helps, of course. I’m a young, budding 60-year-old.
“We’ve got to play nine games of cricket in 2.5 weeks, so you have to be pretty cricket-fit.”
The New Zealand team were runners-up at the inaugural over-60s World Cup in Australia in 2022, going down to Pakistan by seven wickets in the final.
Pennefather has played for the United club for the past 40 years and represented Whanganui in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
He was part of the national over-50s squad in 2018.
“I’m more of a bowler, but I try my best with the bat. A bowling all-rounder? That’s probably being generous,” he said.
“There were definitely a few more runs when I was younger.”
He said his reasons for playing for so long came down to the love of the game and the camaraderie.
Spending six or seven hours with the same people every Saturday meant getting to know them pretty well, he said.
“I suppose I’m quite competitive. I used to play rugby as well, and I’ve always enjoyed the team aspect as opposed to individual sports.”
The standard of cricket was still high in the over-60s grade, but fielding became more difficult, Pennefather said.
“I’ve still got a decent throw for someone my age, so that’s an advantage.
“Bending and diving though, they are the challenges.
“Everyone involved has played a lot of cricket. You don’t get any rubbish bowled at you and everyone can hold a bat.”
He said regardless of which part of the world the teams came from, they were of a similar ilk – “die-hard, tragic cricket players”.
“You play hard – this isn’t funsies cricket.
“They are all 45-over games, but it’s cricket played the right way, and you get on well with everyone afterwards.
“It’s going to be the trip of a lifetime”.
It will be Pennefather’s first time in India.
“That’s going to be an adventure in itself, I would imagine,” he said.
“We are playing at club grounds and schools, so you don’t really know what you’re going to get.”
Pennefather said Marton cricketer Allan Pond had been selected for the national over-70s team.
“As long as you’re upright, you get in that team, I think.
“[In masters’ cricket], the over-60s grade has been going the longest in this country and the under-70s is quite new.
“Two years ago, over-40s cricket started up worldwide. New Zealand [was] sending guys like Hamish and James Marshall, so there is a lot of pedigree there.”
Former first-class cricketers Andrew Nuttall (Canterbury) and Dean Askew (Central Districts and Auckland) are part of the under-60s squad for India.
New Zealand’s first game is against England at the Waheguru cricket ground on February 19.
Mike Tweed is an assistant news director and multi-media journalist at the Whanganui Chronicle. Since starting in March 2020, he has dabbled in everything from sport to music. At present, his focus is local government, primarily Whanganui District Council.