MARK Hoare loves his sport.
The Tintenbar-East Ballina off-spinner has taken 20 wickets this season in the Far North Coast Cricket LJ Hooker League, helps run the Ballina Squash Centre and plays hockey for Ballina's A-reserve team.
Despite his busy schedule, English import Hoare said he still needed to work on shaving the kilograms.
"You wouldn't think I play a lot of sport if you looked at me," he said.
"I've been carrying a few extra pounds lately.
"I missed a whole month of cricket over Christmas because I went back to the UK.
"The form's not as good as it can be but it's been okay. Somehow the wickets have still come my way."
He might be modest about his form but it has been enough to earn rave reviews from former Tintenbar-East Ballina captain and all-rounder Brett Crawford.
"Mark's up there with some of the best off-spinners I've played with," said Crawford, who represented Northern NSW Country earlier this season.
"He gets a fair bit of turn and deceives the batsmen a lot with his flight.
"He loves playing with the 'Bar boys."
Hoare has spent only two years in Ballina but loves the place so much he wants to stay here long-term.
"I've got a girlfriend out here and it's a beautiful part of the world," he said.
"I'm a land creature so I haven't taken to the surf yet but it sure beats the cold back home."
Hoare, 29, played for Middleton in the Sussex League in his homeland and his team reached division one level in the promotion/relegation system.
"It was a very tough level of competition," he said.
"Similar to the one I'm playing in out here.
"You get more bounce on these pitches and that has helped me out."
He has noticed a more relaxed nature from his 'Bar teammates in recent times and believes this is a major reason why they have won their past four games.
But Tintenbar-East Ballina goes into its two-day semi-final away against the Ballina Bears at Fripp Oval starting tomorrow as the underdog.
That is because the Bears have not lost a two-day match all season.
"The boys have just started to relax and the good results have come off that," Hoare said.
"We've got guys with experience that have won premierships before and also some good young guys like (pace bowlers) Aaron Klassen and Jacob Stephenson, who have come along in leaps and bounds.
"Games against the Bears are always highly competitive, especially seeing it's a local derby and we know their players well."
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