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'Laughter and living in Norwich' is the secret to reaching 108 years old

PUBLISHED: 16:19 30 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:56 30 October 2019

English women's cricketer Eileen Ash, now 108, with the bat signed for her by Sir Don Bradman on New Year's Day in 1949.  Photo: Bill Smith

English women's cricketer Eileen Ash, now 108, with the bat signed for her by Sir Don Bradman on New Year's Day in 1949. Photo: Bill Smith

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Few people can boast of being a former spy and a superstar international cricketer.

Former women's England cricketer Eileen Ash still attends Yoga classes. Photo by Simon Finlay.Former women's England cricketer Eileen Ash still attends Yoga classes. Photo by Simon Finlay.

But Eileen Ash can claim both accomplishments and is celebrating another remarkable achievement today - turning 108 years old.

"There is no real secret to living a long life." she said. "Except from laughter and living in Norwich. The air here is very good and clean."

Ms Ash, who is the oldest living international cricketer in the world, debuted for England in June 1937 and played seven Test matches over her 12-year career, playing under her maiden name Eileen Whelan and notching up two centuries.

She said she was still involved in cricket but watches the game now instead.

Eileen Ash opens the Eileen Ash Sports Hall at The Hewett Academy with The Hewett Academy principal Rebecca Handley Kirk. Picture: Inspiration TrustEileen Ash opens the Eileen Ash Sports Hall at The Hewett Academy with The Hewett Academy principal Rebecca Handley Kirk. Picture: Inspiration Trust

Now Ms Ash is dedicated to yoga which she partly attributes to her healthy lifestyle.

She said: "I actually took up yoga to improve my golf, but it didn't make a difference. I've found yoga to be very good for the muscles."

But while she is still active, Ms Ash said she is not in the market to take up another sport.

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She said: "Not at 108 years old. I've tried all the sports now."

Next on her list though is flying with the RAF Red Arrows, one of the world's most famous aerial display teams.

She added: "I'd like to go up with the Red Arrows but I'm not sure if I could get up."

Born in North London, Ms Ash began playing cricket when she worked for the Civil Service.

As a specialist bowler, Ms Ash went on to represent England in seven Tests between 1937 and 1949, taking 10 wickets, with best innings figures of 3/35.

Her finest performance came during a tour of Australia in 1948. Playing at Ballarat, in Victoria, the talented bowler took five wickets for just 10 runs, before smashing a century with the bat.

In 2011, she became the first female Test player to reach her 100th birthday and, in the same year, was awarded Honorary Life Membership by the MCC.

And six years later in July 2017 then aged 105, Ms Ash rang the bell at Lord's to signal the start of the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup. She also passed her driving test at that age and famously drove a yellow Mini.

She also worked for the Civil Service and was seconded to MI6 during the Second World War.

Ms Ash is celebrating her birthday with friends.

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