Casino Cavaliers cricketer Sam Irvine (right) played probably the greatest innings in local cricket — 215 not out — to steer the Cavs to a thrilling win over Tintenbar-East Ballina in the 2007-08 L J Hooker League grand final. Chasing 395, the Cavaliers scored the winning runs in near-darkness.
Sam is now living on the Gold Coast and took time out to answer a few questions for Far North Coaster …
Name and age
Sam Irvine, 20.
You’re living on the Gold Coast now. What are you doing there?
I’ve been living up at the Gold Coast for around 4-5 months now and loving it.
I’m currently going to university and I’m in my second year of primary school teaching.
I basically moved up here with the missus so I can play cricket in Brisbane grade next year.
Who will you be playing cricket with next season?
I was going to be playing with the Gold Coast Dolphins but thought there would be more opportunities at Beenleigh-Logan in 1st grade as the Dolphins have been going awesome lately, so I’ve decided to go there and see what happens.
When did you first pick up a cricket bat?
I was actually a late bloomer in cricket.
I only started playing competitively when I was around 12.
I always used to play backyard cricket with my best mate Wade Sweeney but league was more my game until I got a bit older and started going OK at cricket.
What clubs have you played with and what rep honours have you gained?
I have always been a Casino man and have played my entire junior cricket here and all my senior cricket either with the Oxford Hotel or with the Cavaliers.
I’ve been lucky enough the past couple of years to have played in the NSW Country side and also the NSW Country Colts side.
I have played in a lot of North Coast rep teams as well over the years which have been fantastic.
Has any coach or player had a major influence on your game?
No doubt Mark Mason has been an enormous influence on my game. He’s an awesome coach and does a great job with the Cavs.
He’s been basically my only coach since I was around 12.
Another huge influence definitely is my mum and dad. They have paid for me to go everywhere with cricket and I can’t thank them enough.
My dad has done so much for everything with my cricket it is just unbelievable.
Your innings in last season’s final was regarded as one of, if not the best, seen around here. How do you rate it?
It was definitely the most satisfying innings I have ever played, not just because of scoring a double hundred but because it helped the Cavs to win the final.
I suppose it was a little bit of a relief as well as I hadn’t scored a 100 for the Cavs before.
But as the story goes, you have to get a bit of luck along the way as well.
Was there ever a time during the final that the Cavaliers thought they couldn’t win it?
Well, I think at one stage Wade Sweeney’s dad, Warrick, was offering 200/1 on us, which dents the confidence a little bit!
I think we always knew if we could bat the day then we were some chance of getting the runs on such an awesome batting track.
Mick Wood did bring a $100 bottle of champagne to the second day’s play, which may suggest he was quietly confident!
Late on Sunday afternoon, with the light almost gone, you hit a drive that deflected off the bowler’s hand and straight into Al Nowlan’s head. What thoughts went through your mind then?
That was just about the funniest and unluckiest thing I have ever seen on a cricket field!
When it happened I was packing it as I thought that this was starting to go sour for us.
When I went over to Al to see how he was, he was pretty busted up and he asked me if he should go off.
To words of the effect I said: “Mate, we’re just about to win a grand final here and you want to go off with a scratch on your head!”
As soon as I said that he jumped up off the ground and was pumped up to win.
I sort of knew than that we were home.
If it was up to Al he would have batted the rest of that game with a bandage over his whole head, that’s the sort of bloke he is, absolute champion.
How long did the Cavaliers party for after that sensational win?
Mate, that was the biggest partying I have been involved in since Schoolies!
We partied all night at Mark Mason’s house (a few of the boys never made it to bed at all) and then those who did get some sleep woke up at around 8 on Monday morning and we did a traditional pub crawl of every pub in Casino and also another Cav’s tradition of getting a photo with the Mayor and the trophy.
We then had a few parties together and our end-of-season houseboat trip in the next month which wrapped it up.
It seemed like we only stopped celebrating a week ago!
Is there any one quick bowler who stands out as being the fastest you’ve faced?
Definitely. A bloke by the name of Fazel E-Akbar was right up there.
He’s actually played Test cricket for Pakistan and has got Tendulkar, Laxman and Ganguly out in the same match.
I opened the batting against him in England and was lucky to be about 30 not out when rain stopped play.
He certainly didn’t mind bowling the odd short one!
Another really quick bowler I have played with a fair few times for NSW Country but never played against is a bloke called Burt Cockley.
He’s actually just got a contract with NSW which is great for him but he’s one of the scariest fast bowlers I have seen.
Ditto for spin bowlers: Is there one you’ve found difficult to pick?
Well, another bloke I played against in England is a fella by the name of Jaggernauth.
He just played in the Test match for the Windies against Australia and got Hussey out in the First Test.
He’s the only bloke I have ever played against that can bowl a doosra so well that you cannot pick it out of his hand.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give any young batsman?
Keep your head still. Doesn’t matter if you’re in the worst form of your career, if you keep your head still and watch the ball you’ll find it a hell of a lot easier.
Do you play any other sports?
Not at the moment. I used to play a lot of league and union but I’m a little bit too busy these days to play.
I would still love to get out there and have a run around but the only real sport I get to do in my spare time is have a beer with the boys and do a spot of fishing.
What are your long-term goals in cricket, and life in general?
In cricket, well I’d like to make it as far as I can.
I moved to Queensland to try to make it as far as I can.
I know only a select few play for their State so I am realistic and know that there’s a fair chance I won’t make it that far but I’m definitely going to give it my best and see where it takes me.
In life, well, I’m a pretty easy-going bloke so at the moment I’d just be happy to finish my teaching degree and keep tormenting the missus and see how long she can put up with me.
My other goal would be to win the Lotto for my mum and dad so I can pay back everything I owe them!
For a match report and scoreboard on the thrilling grand final, visit this link.