By Steve Hill
JOHN Evans has been named as vice-captain of the England Over 70 squad set to contest the ‘Grey Ashes’ … and will be accompanied to Australia by Frocester club mate James ‘Slim’ Catto who will be the tour party’s scorer.
The duo head Down Under on January 27 for the month-long trip which will include three one-day internationals and eight representative matches.
Evans, 71, won his first England cap against Wales in the summer, marking his debut with an unbeaten 66 in a comfortable 161-run victory.
And the Frocester chairman is so determined to be in the best shape possible for the Australia tour that he is already dieting and improving his fitness by getting out on his bike while there are also plans for indoor nets on a bowling machine!
‘Evo, as he is popularly known, did not play for Frocester this season, choosing instead to umpire locally and, under a new initiative, secure important league points for the 2nd team in WEPL.
But he continued to open for both Gloucestershire Over 60s and 70s with such success that he managed to pass 1,000 runs for the summer, including scoring a career-best unbeaten 153 for the 70s against Worcestershire.
Evo said: “I’m really chuffed to be selected for the trip and to be going as vice captain, and I’m really pleased that my wife Judy will be coming too.
“The squad can’t wait to go … any England team facing Australia wants to win and we’re no different.”
There is no ECB funding for the trip hence the 18 members of the touring party must pay their own way. Subject to fitness, players have been guaranteed that they will appear in at least seven games, but selection for the ODIs will be purely on form.
Slim, meanwhile, is set to score the entire tour after being recommended for the role by Evo who said: “England were looking for someone who was not only an experienced scorer but who would also be a good tourist – and I couldn’t think of anyone better!”
Slim, who has been scoring at Frocester for five seasons and whose sons Angus and Jock both play for the club, could be forgiven for having divided loyalties ahead of the Grey Ashes as he is an Australian passport holder thanks to his mother who was originally from Tasmania.
But the 55-year-old said: “The Aussies won’t be needing any help from me!
“It’s going to be a great trip. I lived in Sydney for eight months and I have a sister who lives in Geelong, near Melbourne, so it will be good to catch up.”
Evo, along with the rest of the playing squad, is trying to attract sponsorship to help cover funds needed for match fees and expenses.
Companies can purchase advertising space in a special A5 brochure being produced for the tour. For further details, email Evo at: email@example.com