Evergreen Geoff reaches 70 not out

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Birthday boy Geoff Shepherd, centre, lines up with his Henley team ahead of last weekend’s league game against Winchcombe.

SPINNER Geoff Shepherd celebrated his 70th birthday in style by claiming three wickets for Henley-in-Arden in their Cotswold Hills League fixture at Winchcombe 2nds on Saturday.

The slow left-armer claimed the treble for a mere 19 runs before Henley chased down Winchcombe’s total of 149 all out in a mere 15 overs thanks to quick-fire half-centuries from John Perry and Mitchell Colby.

The club are very keen to know if Shepherd is currently the oldest cricketer still playing regular league cricket.

The early finish ensured the team had plenty of time to indulge the grandfather-of-four in one of his other hobbies, sampling some local real ale at the host side’s pub sponsor the Corner Cupboard.

Originally from Leyton in East London, Shepherd moved to Henley in 1990 when he began playing for Fillongley CC on Saturday and Henley on Sunday before eventually devoting himself to Henley.

Surprisingly, he did not take up the game seriously until the age of 42 and attributes this as the main reason he is still keen to turn out every week.

Shepherd is also an accomplished Stratford League table tennis player, keeping him fitter than many of the team, most of whom are more than 20 years his junior.

He also boasts a collection of vintage cycles and can often be seen peddling around Henley on bikes even older than he is.

In his early career, Shepherd was a dashing David Gower-esque batsman, who scored several centuries before gradually slipping down to prop up the order at number 11.

He has taken several seven-wicket hauls and been leading wicket taker for the club on numerous occasions.

“I’m still enjoying my cricket,” said Shepherd.

“Though I’m not quite as mobile as I used to be in the field, I know I can still do a good job for the team.”

Asked how long he intends to continue playing, he said: “I’m just taking it season by season.

“I’m sure my team-mates will be the first to let me know when it’s time to hang up the boots.”

The club need not worry about Shepherd announcing his retirement though, after blooding a new spinner on Saturday — 56-year-old Alan Stevens.