Amm to jet off to India for over-60 World Cup

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“Cricket is in my DNA.” Anyone who is aware of 61-year-old Peter Amm’s cricket legacy will understand his personal take on his long association with the gentleman’s game.

Amm’s selection to the South Africa squad to play in the over-60 Cricket World Cup in India starting later this month is a high point for the experienced cricketer and businessman. “I had to sit down a bit and take it all in when I received the news of my selection. I am of course elated,” says Amm.

One could say cricket-wise  things have come full circle for Amm who refuses to be no-balled despite his 61 years.   

Amm who plays 2nd league cricket for Salem Cricket Club, has a family connection with cricket that can be traced to the mid-1830-1840s following the arrival of the British Settlers in the region, who played the game to “have something else to do” outside the rigours of settler life.

Salem Cricket Club itself has a long and storied historical legacy with the club’s roots firmly established and entrenched after its formation in 1844. Amm says cricket was the only sport being played in the region for a long time, followed only later by tennis and rugby.

Amm’s love affair with the game goes back several decades during his formative schooling at the now defunct Salem Primary School before joining St Andrew’s Prep in Std 3 [Gr 5]. “Cricket at Salem  Primary was coached from Sub A [Grade 1. The school held the distinction of producing seven SA schools cricketers,” says Amm.

“My father, Rex, played club cricket for Salem captaining the team for 16 seasons. As kids we used to attend every match to support our dads and uncles. We used to play our own cricket games on the side. At lunch and tea time we were allowed on to the cricket pitch to play.  Cricket is in our blood … life back then was dull without cricket.”

Amm veers off into some light-hearted banter concerning the game in the district. “You were warned not to get married in the cricket season … otherwise no one would come to your wedding,” he says with a chuckle.  

Amm whose late brother, Phillip, was an accomplished EP opening batsmen in the 1980s, bemoans the “depopulation” of farming areas around Salem and the hinterland as generations that follow leave the farms to settle for other careers.

“But cricket still thrives in the region and the other farming areas around it … we still love the game. “There is of course Pineapple Cricket [celebrating 120 years this year], so the culture of cricket is alive and well in our areas,” says Amm.

 A family six-a-side tournament that sees some well-known cricketing names participating, takes place in the district every two years.

Amm’s transition to UCT before embarking on post-graduate studies at the University of Port Elizabeth [now Nelson Mandela University] after matriculating from St Andrew’s College, gave further impetus to his cricket career. 

Amm captained UPE-Pollocks in then-Port Elizabeth which was a  perfect nurturing ground for his senior representative career.  

“I played SA schools for one year, I captained EP Colts and I captained EP B in 1989 and also represented EP Country Districts, where I rubbed shoulders with some well-known names such as the Longs, Fords, Wiblins and Gradwells among them.”

Amm says during his stint as EP B captain, one of his main tasks was to help nurture talent for the EP A provincial team participating in the then Castle Cup. For example, top players like Brett Schultz, Pieter Strydom and Neil Johnson came to the B side for their first provincial games. 

“When I felt they had progressed enough I would phone the selectors and tell them ‘they are now ready for the EP A team’.”  

Neale Emslie of the popular Seven Fountains cricketing family, who has forged a solid bond with Amm describes him as a “determined cricketer”. “We shared a flat in our early days while in PE and we got on very well. Peter was an astute leader, a determined cricketer and an aggressive batsman. I remember one club game in PE, I think it was for Old Grey, where he hit the first five balls he faced for sixes.

“I think  it is a great accolade that he is being recognised as Peter has given a lot to cricket. It is well-deserved,” says Emslie.     

Amm says so ingrained is cricket in his day-to-day activity that when he is not playing  he assists with preparing pitches and organising games or “throwing balls to my grandson”.

   Having retired from corporate work after a 25-year stint in Johannesburg, where he often represented the Nicky Oppenheimer XI,  Amm returned to the Salem family farm. 

“It’s been a good  seven-month period getting fit and losing weight … having been selected for India has forced me to get into shape and to stay healthy.”

“We had a triangular tournament in Johannesburg last month where we played against Zimbabwe and a rest of the world. We all are training hard and we WhatsApp each other to keep track and to motivate one another.”

“The games [in India] will be played with a lot of respect for one another but it will be competitive. I fly out for a two-day camp with my fellow-players next week before we leave for India. There will be two pools of seven teams. And six round robin matches and a semi-final and final. 

“The most exciting part is that  I’m getting to play cricket in a South African representative team and that brings absolute joy to my heart … It is fantastic and it is such a privilege,” says Amm. 

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