Player Profile - Bert Horner

Over the next few weeks, leading up to the 2020 Over-50s World Cup, we’ll be featuring the key new players (that is, those who did not participate in the 2018 World Cup) in each of the 12 sides.

These aren’t necessarily the most famous players, but they are cricketers who I’m picking to play a decisive role for their side.

This week’s profile is Bert Horner from New Zealand.

Horner is a nuggety keeper-batsman who can open or bat anywhere in the top 6. At the recent New Zealand Over-50s Cricket Inter-Provincial Over-50s Tournament (IPT), he scored 180 runs for just twice out, including a match-winning innings of 79 not out against Wellington/Tasman when his side looked dead and buried chasing an imposing total. This followed a century in a warm-up game for his ‘Districts’ side.

Horner grew up in Northland, near the top of New Zealand’s North Island, and progressed through various age-group sides. He represented Northland Cricket on several occasions before heading overseas.

During a 13-year stint in England, he represented Berkshire cricket at minor counties level, alongside two members of the current England squad - Gary Loveday and Simon Myles - as well as South Africa’s Neil Fusedale, and against another English rep in Giles Ecclestone.

Horner’s sole List-A appearance came for Berkshire against Surrey, in which he top-scored with 32 facing Joey Benjamin, Carl Rackemann, Alex Tudor and Tony Pigott.

He continues to play at a high level of club and representative cricket. He plays for Maungakaramea Cricket Club CC’s (Tim Southee’s club) 1st XI and made a comeback for the full Northland side (equivalent of minor counties; i.e., one level below first-class) at the age of 45.

His recall to the Northland side was one of his most treasured moments in cricket, coming as it did two weeks after the death of his father. He marked the occasion with a half-century.

This season, the 53-year-old Horner was again marked for higher honours when he was asked to be the player/coach for the Northland B side. Once more, he rose to the occasion, scoring 53.

Upon his selection for the New Zealand Over-50s, he told the The Northern Advocate newspaper, “It’s a lifetime dream. You grow up as a cricket lover, you always dream of putting a silver fern on your chest and listening to the national anthem.”

Impact: In a New Zealand batting line-up full of stroke-makers, Horner offers solidity and the ability to keep the score ticking over. He won’t give his wicket up easily and will fight till the end, while his sharp keeping may catch some batsmen napping.

By Jim Morrison