Age is just a number for evergreen John ‘Evo’ Evans after the 71-year-old Stroud sporting legend clubbed 81 for England Over 70s against old rivals Australia in the heat at the Coogee Oval, Sydney.
Deep into a month-long trip, including three one-day internationals and eight representative matches, the Frocester CC icon led the Three Lions to victory to square the one-day international series, with the decider due to take place in Melbourne.
Evans admitted the ‘Grey Ashes’ have been challenging, but an experience of a lifetime: “The first games were tough as we openers had to wear helmets in 36 degrees and humidity, but the last couple of games have been better, still hot, but less humidity.”
Evans joined the tour as vice-captain, but has recently taken the helm: “Our skipper hasn’t been very well so I’ve captained four of the five games. The Aussies have treated us royally, but certainly want to beat us as we want to beat them, but this has been a fantastic experience, overall.”
In a stellar sporting career, Evans also played football for Forest Green, Cheltenham Town, Gloucester City, Trowbridge Town, Shortwood United and Brimscombe and managed Rovers, Shortwood and Brimscombe. In a tour to remember, two of his former players – Rob Cook and Matty Collins came to watch their former boss in action.
“It was absolutely lovely and great to see both of them,” added Evans.
Cook, now a personal trainer in Australia, played for Evans at Shortwood before joining Forest Green, said: “When I saw that he was coming to play down here, I couldn’t wait to see him play. He was a big part of giving me the confidence to play higher and he is a legend.”
Evans won his first England cap against Wales in the summer, marking his debut with an unbeaten 66 in a comfortable 161-run victory.
Evans did not play for Frocester last season, choosing instead to umpire locally and, under a new initiative, secure important league points for the second 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.
There was no ECB funding for the trip hence the 18 members of the touring party being forced to pay for the trip themselves.