England call for Rob - at 54!

Cricket - Warley v Outlane.'Rob Keywood bowls for Warley.
Cricket - Warley v Outlane.'Rob Keywood bowls for Warley.

Rob Keywood’s successful sporting career will belatedly reach new heights in Sri Lanka next month.

The Warley CC left arm opening bowler will be playing for his country’s over 50 side in an inaugural one-day international tournament involving eight teams.

“I never thought I would be pulling on an England shirt for the first time at the age of 54,” said Keywood, one of the best-known and most successful players in the Halifax League.

England will do battle against players from the host country, Australia, India, Pakistan and the West Indies at some of Sri Lanka’s top grounds, including the Galle International Stadium.

“I’m really looking forward to it. It should be fantastic,” said Keywood, who was man of the match when Yorkshire won the 50-plus title for the first time since 2006 last summer.

The white rose side beat a Staffordshire team containing ex-England Test player Kim Barnett by nine wickets in the final at Kibworth CC, Leicestershire.

Keywood was one of four Yorkshire players selected in a 15-man squad for Sri Lanka and the party has now doubled in size with England accepting an invitation to field a second team.

They will fly out on February 17 for a tournament starting three days later. Keywood believes the teams will be split into two groups of four with the top two from each section progressing to the semi-finals.

“We could play up to five games in eight or nine days. With two squads of 15 should be able to rotate around,” he said.

Keywood’s selection has capped an excellent 12 months for him which included completing another league and cup double with Craig Brennan’s Warley seconds as well as Yorkshire success.

His sons Greg and Liam also play for Warley and Rob has won numerous honours with the club’s firsts, including captaining the side to two Parish Cup successes.

Keeping fit and injury-free, as well as retaining your appetite for the game, is the key to success for veteran cricketers.

Keywood goes to the gym a couple of times a week and he should be better prepared than many for the likely heat and humidity in Sri Lanka, having recently returned from a cricket-filled tour to the Caribbean.

Yorkshire over 50s go away every two years and went to the Caribbean this time, visiting Barbados, Antigua and St Lucia.

They played at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua and met the great man as well as Sir Garfield Sobers and Curtly Ambrose.

“I’ve also played at the MCC - although that was Magaluf Cricket Club in Spain for a Select XI on (former teammate) Shaun Charnley’s stag do!” joked Keywood, who is a financial services company director and lives at Norton Tower, Halifax.

Plans are already afoot for a second one-day international tournament in South Africa next year with Newlands at Cape Town one of the venues said to be under consideration.

“If I can still walk after this one I will consider it,” said Keywood.

“It may depend on how many overs Craig wants me to bowl next season!”