THE love of the game and the social surrounds that come with it are equally important to Golden Point cricketer Tony Irish.
“Cricket clubs are good places,” Irish says.
“I do enjoy the cricket – you wouldn’t play as long as I have if you didn’t – but you also meet some good people and it’s a good discipline to have. You get the opportunity to give back a bit.”
Irish, affectionately known as Paddy, will tomorrow play his 200th game for the Ballarat Cricket Association club in an encounter with Brown Hill at Western Oval.
It’s been a long, but enjoyable journey for the 43-year-old, who is currently in his fifth season as seconds captain.
Three Golden Point premierships have been obvious highlights for Irish, who played in the Pointies’ first eleven flag as a youngster in the 1986-87 season. After years away living and playing cricket in Melbourne and overseas, Irish returned to Ballarat about eight years ago and has won grand finals in both the seconds and thirds.
“I was probably a bit young to appreciate (the first eleven premiership) – I was only 17 – and it was 17 years between premierships.
“I didn’t win one all my time playing in Melbourne or overseas,” he recalled.
“I really appreciated the one when I got back here in the thirds. And the premiership in the twos last year took four years to win.
“To go through last year without losing a game was a terrific effort.”
Irish’s career at Golden Point has netted over 4500 runs, four centuries and 26 half-centuries at an average of 26.77.
He has also served in a number of off-field roles, including vice-president and secretary and is the current MILO in2CRICKET co-ordinator.
“Cricket’s been a very fulfilling activity over the journey in lots of ways,” Irish said.