Cricket: Veteran Aldridge reaches milestone

When Graeme Aldridge took a wicket in Canterbury's second innings in the recent Plunket Shield match played in Hamilton, it was a highly significant moment for the man known as G.

The wicket took him past left arm spinner Cliff Dickeson's record of 232 dismissals to become Northern Districts' highest wicket taker.

The record had stood since 1987 and it was fitting that Dickeson was at Seddon Park and was one of the first people to congratulate Aldridge.

No one deserves the accolade more than the likeable Aldridge, who made his debut for Northern Districts back in the 1998/1999 season and at the age of 35 is still running in just as enthusiastically with the new ball in his hand.

He is also a handy batsman with 2031 first-class runs to prove it.

Aldridge says going past Dickeson's mark means a great to deal to him.

"I'm not a big stats man but once you get closer to those milestones you take a bit more notice and try to knock them off,"said Aldridge.

"Obviously it helped me getting there by not making the next level apart from the one time in Zimbabwe [last year], so I have played a lot more games than some of the really good bowlers who have played for ND.

"I am pretty proud of what I have achieved."

He admits he thought his time might have passed to get the call up to the Black Caps but it was certainly a good feeling when he got the call last October.

"I look back now and I prepared well for the tour and while I was on tour I did everything to do my best. My performances were probably not what they could have been but I am pretty happy.

"If I get another chance, which is pretty unrealistic, but if there about 15 injuries I will know what to do anyway."

Aldridge puts his longevity down to his physical fitness, looking after himself properly and a work ethic he inherited from his father Bill, a former Canterbury pace bowler.

"My first few years playing I worked out pretty quickly that I was not fit enough to play first-class cricket.

"I decided I had to change what I was doing or have a pretty short career so as I was enjoying it so much I got into a pretty strict winter regime with my fitness and getting ready for the next season.

"These days the winters are my hardest period with training and trying to earn a living outside of cricket.

"I basically take the attitude of preparing as well as I can to get me through the summer and I think that is something that has helped me a lot.

"I think I have got [dad's] work ethic off him. He has worked hard to help out the family for his whole life and I think some of that has rubbed off on me and that is something I will always appreciate and has helped me through my cricket career."

Aldridge, who is Otumoetai College's second Black Cap after Trent Boult, says the chance to play for New Zealand has always been a driving force for him to keep going.

"The main one was, and still is today, to make the Black Caps.

"Whether that is realistic now is up for argument, but there is still plenty of motivation for that, and basically I have a lot of passion for Northern Districts as an organisation.

"I have been playing with a lot of these guys for years like the Marshalls and Joey Yovich, and they have become good friends.

"I enjoy the cricket side and off the park just as much, and while I am still enjoying it, I will try and keep playing it."

Northern Districts coach Grant Bradburn says Aldridge sets the standards for the other players when it comes to dedication, preparation and professionalism.

"He is hugely valuable to us and is just so consistent, and is still bowling superbly well.

"He does more than the work required of a fast bowler and leads the way in how to prepare for a season.

"His experience is invaluable for us."

Aldridge is not thinking of retirement just yet but as a father of two young children, has been looking at life after cricket.

"I'd love to do another two seasons at least but there are a lot of factors that go into that. The main one is family and if I still have the support from home to go away for a summer, then there is fitness and form.

"There are younger guys coming through and if they overtake me then that will come into it but I am just as keen to keep playing as ever."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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