SAM IRVINE hits out against Tintenbar-East Ballina during his double century as Bar wicketkeeper Scott Hogden looks on.
SAM IRVINE hits out against Tintenbar-East Ballina during his double century as Bar wicketkeeper Scott Hogden looks on.

It's the best ever

SAM IRVINE'S unbeaten, chanceless, premiership-winning double century is the greatest knock ever in local first grade cricket, according to Far North Coast commentators.

Casino were still celebrating hard yesterday after Irvine hit 215 not out in his side's amazing win after chasing down a mammoth 395 set by minor premiers Tintenbar-East Ballina.

Lismore cricket identity Harold Crozier said the match played out like a fantasy for the Cavaliers. "When I found out Tintenbar-East Ballina had scored 395 I thought Casino would never get that. It's almost unbelievable that 395 could be beaten in a final," Crozier said.

"It was undoubtedly the best innings ever played in local cricket. Boy, is he some bat.

"It was something else."

Crozier said the match was so good that he was still buzzing from it a day later.

"It's the best ever final. There's never been one as close as that, and probably the best match," he said.

"I still can't get over it. I'm as excited as the players; it's weird.

"I was there when they were 2-3 and after lunch they were still no chance. But Sam stayed in there and the rest contributed at least 24 runs. It was a brilliant day's play."

The knock shows he is ready for Brisbane first grade.

"To go in when you're chasing 395, it doesn't matter how good you are. One error and you are gone," he said.

"He got away without making an error and that is pretty special. And while the others guys all contributed, he had the faith in them to just stay with him.

"It was a beauty. It was a ripper."

Ballina Bears captain Shane Jacobs said the match was a great contest.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought 395 was more than enough," he said.

"It was probably one of the greatest games ever played in local cricket.

"Sam's innings was the single greatest performance in the LJ Hooker League since it started (14 seasons ago).

"I talked to a few guys who've played longer than me and they said it was the best innings they've seen.

"It definitely doesn't get better than that. When you're the bloke who scored 215 and gets your team home in the final, that's what you play for.

"Tintenbar would be scratching their heads thinking we didn't do a lot wrong but we still lost. They are going to look back and say we played some damn good cricket it was just that the kid had a day out and unfortunately we couldn't stop him. It was just the brilliance of one kid that has beaten them on the day.

"Hopefully one day in a few years we'll be saying he's something special and we used to play against him."

John McMahon said it was the highest chase he could remember in 50 years of local first grade.

"It would have to go down as one of the greatest innings in the history of North Coast cricket," he said.

"You have to remember that when he came in, they were in trouble.

"I think anyone would've said it's all over. With a score like that it would've been 100-1 to chase that total, and that would be with a mean bookmaker.

"He's always been good under pressure, but in the final he was under tremendous pressure. You don't get any more pressure from the beginning to the end.

"He had to have tremendous concentration for a long, long period. All the fellas that batted with him all played a really important part in the game."

Maybe Irvine's team-mate Mick Wood summed it up best when he said: "The history books have been rewritten for good. They won't chase that; they'll never beat that."



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