A CRICKETER with Saddleworth links recently captained England to a triumph in Australia.
John Foster, who was raised in Grasscroft and played for the juniors at Saddleworth, led England Over-60s to victory in the ‘Grey Ashes’.
It was a fourth successive series win for Foster who captained the side to victory – 2016 and 2019 Down Under and 2017 and 2019 on home soil.
During the five-week tour, England played 14 matches in places including Adelaide, Tasmania, Canberra and Brisbane.
They included the three one-day internationals which determined the Grey Ashes.
England won by four wickets in the first match at the Bradman Oval, Bowral, where the cricketing legend played his boyhood cricket.
Australia levelled the series with a 22-run victory at Lake Macquarie while England claimed the decider in Brisbane by 10 runs with nine balls remaining.
John, 64, a retired civil engineer, said: “It was a proud moment and I regard it as an honour and a privilege to captain my country.
“We are lucky still to be playing. And while it is for fun, it remains competitive, especially against the Aussies.”
John, whose sister lives in Delph, described the trip as a marvellous adventure as they got the chance to play cricket and travel extensively.
The only dampener was the cricketers had to fund the trip themselves.
John, who now lives in Shropshire, said: “It would have been nice if we could have found a sponsor, but we are realistic and realise we are not in the right demographic group to qualify for funding.
“It was an expensive trip but you go on it because you want to.”
John does not know what the future may hold for him at international level as he says younger players are coming through which makes it tougher with each passing year.
There is, however, the lure of the Over-60s World Cup which is to be held in Australia this year with about half a dozen countries participating.
After playing junior cricket at Saddleworth, John joined Werneth aged 17 so he could play in the CLL where he got to play against legends including Sir Garry Sobers and Joel Garner.
John, a batsman, moved to Shropshire which has been home since leaving university.
He began playing Minor Counties cricket for Shropshire in the 1980s and in more recent times represented them at Over-50s and 60s, still representing the latter in their county championship.
John intends to continue playing as long as he can, pointing out there is an England Over-70s side which even has a tour to Australia scheduled for next winter.
“As you get older, you are a lot slower and less mobile, but everything is relative. If you are still reasonably mobile in the field you can get by,” he said.
He no longer plays club cricket for Shrewsbury where his sons Edward and Robert have starred for the club helping them win the national club championships and be the Birmingham League’s team of the decade.
And they also earlier helped Shrewsbury win the national under-15s title where the team also included former Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Indeed, the Foster family were neighbours to the Hart’s and Robert was best man at Joe’s wedding.