Chen Tay scored a double Century on the weekend setting a new club record.
Chen Tay scored a double Century on the weekend setting a new club record. Blainey Woodham

Is a baggy green waiting for Chen?

THERE'S no national cricket team in Cambodia, but if there were, they would welcome with open arms their expatriate, Cambodian refugee Chen Tay.

The Ballina chiropractor is an astonishing double-century batsman from a grade four Lennox Head team.

Chen was only two when his parents escaped the brutal Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot's killing fields in Cambodia in 1979.

It was a purge on the educated classes and intellectuals.

Most of Chen's mother's family was wiped out, but his father and some of his uncles managed to escape across the Thai border to a refugee camp.

From there, they were sponsored to come to Australia in 1980, to a refugee reception centre at Nunawading, outside Melbourne.

Their first family home in Australia was a housing commission house.

Chen's parents had no English and still struggle with the language today.

But his father worked in a factory, and his mother set up as a piecework seamstress, and within two years they had saved enough to buy not only a car, but also their own home at Mitcham, Victoria.

"I got to have a go on the overlocker, and made shoulder pads and straps for the strappy sundresses women used to wear then," Chen laughed.

"But because of the poverty they had known, our parents were really serious about education. They wanted me and my three brothers to have a better life than they had, and they knew the key to that was education."

Chen's parents worked hard to see the four boys through school, and Chen began to realise that his education would be great currency.

Reaching the end of high school, he had a talk with his careers advisor, who cleverly steered him towards getting work experience in a chiropractic clinic.

"I absolutely loved the work experience, and then applied to a chiropractic school, did the five year course and met my wife, Margaret.

"I guess my parents thought I would marry a Cambodian girl but I knew I was going to marry an Australian. We were on the course together, and when we graduated we knew we wanted to stay together so we got married.

"We found two practices, one in Ballina and another in Byron Bay, for sale by the same vendor and we jumped in the deep end, even though we were poor students.

Now the parents of two boys aged five and seven, Chen and Margaret have since built their dream house at East Ballina.

And in his leisure time, Chen plays cricket.

"Last year my average run score was 18 runs," he said.

"Since the double century, it's gone up to 71 this year.

"One of my mates rang me up and said 'Chen - there's a baggy green cap waiting for you, mate'!"



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