Ex-Suffolk trio selected for Over-40s World Cup

October 12, 2023

THREE former Suffolk Minor Counties cricketers, two of whom are still playing regularly in the county, have been selected in the England squad for the IMC Over-40s World Cup.

Chris Swallow, who will skipper the side, and ex-Suffolk captain Justin Bishop have been named in the squad for the tournament taking place in Cape Town in South Africa next year.

They are joined in the 16-man squad by ex-Suffolk all-rounder Ben France and South African-born former Cambridgeshire all-rounder Sean Park, who now plays his club cricket for Bury St Edmunds.

The 45-overs-a-side tournament, which will be played with a pink ball, will run from February 17th till March 1st with the 12 teams split into two groups of six.

England have been drawn in Group A alongside Australia, Canada, Namibia, the USA and Zimbabwe, with hosts South Africa in Group B with India, New Zealand, Sir Lanka, the UAE and Wales.

Swallow, who was appointed England skipper ahead of a series of trial matches during the summer to select the squad, said it was an ‘unbelievable honour’ to captain his country at a World Cup.

“I never made it to professional cricket and the opportunity to represent your country is the pinnacle in any sport.

“Winning the One-Day Trophy with Suffolk at Lord’s and winning the league with Copdock are also highlights, but I think leading England out in a World Cup will be hard to beat,” he said.

All-rounder Swallow, who still plays for Copdock & Old Ipswichian in the Thurlow Nunn East Anglian Premier League, is delighted to be joined in the squad by three players he knows well.

He said: “For me, picking players has always been made up of ability and, more importantly, character. I have been lucky enough to play cricket with Bish for nearly 30 years and obviously played with Ben for both club and county for 15 years.

“Along with having played against Parky for 15 years. I know these three are brilliant team men and I am sure I will be leaning on all of them at some point!”

Swallow said it was hard to predict how England will fare as the strength of their opponents is not yet known, although former South African international Ashwell Prince will be skippering the hosts.

“Truthfully, I have no idea! We have never played our strongest side and have only played four games against varying opposition.

“Depending on how other cricket boards support their sides will have a massive impact,” he explained.

Bishop, who plays for Bury St Edmunds 2nd XI in Division Two of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship, said he was delighted to be selected in the squad.

He said: “After a reasonable season, I hoped that I would make the squad. As interest in Over-40s cricket has grown over the past year, and more and more players have expressed an interest in being involved, competition has heated up.

“I am sure the standard of the team will continue to improve and for any player to remain in the side, we will have to continue to work hard and continue performing well.

“I was obviously delighted to find out that I had been selected in the squad after a series of trial games and training days in 2022-23. It was also nice to receive the good news from Pidge (Swallow)!

Bishiop, who like Swallow is aged 41, previously represented England Under-19s and played 25 first-class and 23 List A matches for Essex.

“Playing in the World Cup for England is an honour,” he said. “It will be exciting to come up against and to try and outperform experienced players from other countries.

“Playing with the Three Lions on your shirt usually means that somehow you manage to find that extra bit of energy and drive when you need it!”

Bishop said his selection ‘ranks right up there in my cricketing achievements’ during his career.

He added: “I am over the moon that I will be able to share the experience with players that I have played with previously like Pidge, Parky and Ben France.

“Pidge, Ben and I know each other’s games really well. We have been through highs and lows together while playing for Suffolk. We understand what makes each other tick on the field. This can only be an advantage to all of us.

“I can’t wait to share this experience with all of them. Also, it will be great to have my Bury St Edmunds club colleague Sean Park there too. He is also someone that I have played many times with and against.

“I am looking forward to all aspects of the trip – the competition, the opposition, new pitches, the culture, the demands on the body and then hopefully the feeling of being victorious!”

Pictured above (left to right) are Justin Bishop, Chris Swallow and Ben France. Photographs: Chris Mays


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