Sam Irvine
Sam Irvine

Cricketers pad up for final

DESPITE winning back-to-back finals in Far North Coast LJ Hooker League cricket, Casino Cavaliers top-order batsman Sam Irvine believes his side is underdog in the two-day final against Ballina Bears at Fripp Oval, Ballina, starting today.

Bears haven't lost a two-day game all season while Casino has done enough to make its fifth consecutive final.

"We're happy to be the underdogs and I haven't been this pumped up in a long time," Irvine said.

Irvine has been involved with three Cavaliers premiership wins.

He hoped all along it would eventually come down to these two sides.

"It's no secret that we have a good rivalry with Bears and I'm keen to get amongst it," he said.

"I'm sure they feel the exact same way and wouldn't want to play against anyone else.

"Both sides are super competitive and there will be plenty of spirit out there.

"(Ballina opening batsman) Toby Hordern is one of my best mates; he's a bit quieter than me but I'm sure he will have plenty to say."

Irvine blasted an unbeaten 215 in the victorious 2007-08 final against Tintenbar-East Ballina.

He also has three years representing NSW Country under his belt.

"There was no secret with the double-century, I was just determined at the time and luck went my way," he said.

"The Country experience was invaluable and my role in the Cavaliers has changed over the years.

"I've been here for 10 years now and I try to help out some of the younger guys in the team."

Irvine is the top run-scorer for the Cavaliers this season with an average of 57.29 in the regular season.

He believes he is better suited at No.3 after moving between three and four during the past few seasons.

"I don't hit fours and sixes like Rodney (Wells), but I love attacking the new ball," Irvine said.

"I've trained harder than ever this year and I try to bat through the entire innings."

Win, lose or draw, Irvine is happy just to be part of the experience.

"Some blokes play for 20 years and never make a final," he said.

"I'm lucky to be in my sixth and you have to take them whenever you can."

Casino captain Al Nowlan believes the best is yet to come for Irvine.

"He's had an outstanding year," Nowlan said.

"Sam is getting better and better; he's a real natural.

"I think there is more pressure on them going in undefeated than there is for us to win three in a row."

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