Bears batsman looking to step up
TOBY Hordern might be only 24 years of age but he has already endured a long list of highs and lows in a Far North Coast Cricket LJ Hooker League career, which is into its ninth season.
Ask the opening batsman about Tintenbar-East Ballina, the Bears' opponents in this weekend's two-day semi-final fixture at Fripp Oval, Ballina and nothing changes.
"I remember facing up to Phil Alley from the 'Bar as a 16-year-old and it was terrifying," Hordern said.
"He was this big six-foot-10 left-armer who was very quick and he went on to play for New South Wales.
"Tintenbar-East Ballina is a side respected by everyone.
"For seven years there we couldn't beat them but over the last three years we've pretty much reversed the trend.
"Guys like Brett Crawford and Luke Shay are fierce on-field competitors but I'm the first one to buy them a beer off the field.
"We're trying to get a lot of old Bears players out to the game on Sunday for a barbecue at midday but hopefully some of the old Tintenbar-East Ballina boys can also make that."
Hordern started the summer on fire, with 96 against defending premiers Casino Cavaliers in round two, after he posted 55 against Byron Bay in the season opener.
Since then it has been slim pickings for Hordern, with his next-highest score just 26, against wooden spooner Workers Goonellabah.
"I started really well and made the Northern NSW Country team," Hordern said.
"But since then at the Bears we've given some of our promising young guys a go at the top of the order.
"I put my hand up to move down the order to give those guys a go and that was fine because I'm also the wicketkeeper, so I have a big workload."
Hordern said an England trip with Casino Cavaliers batsman Sam Irvine in 2007 changed the way he played the game.
"Sam got a scholarship but I just went over to work and play," he said.
"It was the best six months of my life.
"I came back and actually made the (Northern NSW Country) team but didn't play because I lost my licence and had to go to court.
"It's nice to know the selectors picked me again this season and still had me in mind."
Bears captain Sam Adams said Hordern did not mind a bit of friendly banter with all the teams in the Hooker League.
"He's pretty chummy with all the teams," he said.
"He likes stepping up for all the big games."