AS a young boy, Chen Tay's life was under threat and he made it to Australia only by chance.
Fast forward 31 years to last Saturday when he blasted an innings of 214 runs for Lennox Head in a Ballina District fourth-grade cricket match against Alstonville at Williams Reserve, Lennox Head.
It was a club-record knock, surpassing Brian Schweitzer's previous benchmark of 210 in the 2001-02 season.
Tay's innings included 26 fours and 13 sixes.
His sense of humour is remarkable considering he could have lost his life in the gruesome Killing Fields in his native country of Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, when 1.4 million people died.
He fled with his family to a free new land with new hope, eventually making it to Australia in 1980 when he was just two years old.
"We had a sponsor who got us to Australia, so for that I'm very lucky," Tay, now 33, said.
"My earliest memories of cricket are the nightmares I had when the West Indies kept beating us (in the 1980s).
"My Aussie friends keep taking the piss out of me because I'm a cricket tragic from Cambodia."
And all that friendly banter continued on Saturday despite his amazing knock.
What makes his innings all the more remarkable is that it came in a 40-overs-a-side one-day match where he arrived at the crease with the score at 2-64 in the 12th over.
Tay shared a 232-run stand with Tim Kelly, who hit 94.
Lennox ended up posting 3-373 and not surprisingly won convincingly, bowling out the visitors for 158.
But Tay's heroics were not enough for teammate Dave Greiner to consider it worthy of man-of-the-match honours.
"Dave took 3-9. He's a funny guy and he was joking afterwards that I needed to take a couple of catches and a wicket if I wanted to get the best player on the ground," said Tay, who works as a chiropractor in Ballina.
"Someone brought up Dave Warner's wagon wheel on their phone (after his 180 from 158 balls for Australia in the Third Test against India) at the club after the game and I kept telling everyone that was my wagon wheel."
Tay had previously dreamt of his record-breaking inn- ings for many nights.
"I've played the game for 15 years and before Saturday I'd never scored 100," he said.
"When I got closer to it I thought 'I've been waiting my whole life for this'.
"I got a duck the Saturday before and everyone was ribbing me about that at my church, but that's just the Australian way.
"I only averaged 18 (with the bat) last season but now I'm averaging 73.
"I woke up really sore but my partner said 'I don't care because you still have to clean your room' so that brought me back down to earth."
Tay thanks cricket for allowing him to never take a day for granted.
"For me, Test cricket is a bit of a parallel to the way you should live your life," he said.
"My life philosophy is 'keep swinging' and on the weekend I did that."
And that is exactly what he and his family did when times were tough in their native land in the 1970s.
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