WORTH THE WAIT: Mick Warburton, who hit his maiden first-grade century after more than 20 years with the Tintenbar-East Ballina club.
WORTH THE WAIT: Mick Warburton, who hit his maiden first-grade century after more than 20 years with the Tintenbar-East Ballina club. FILE

Batsman's Ballina century show's a ton of tenacity

TINTENBAR-East Ballina batsman Mick Warburton has been striving for more than 20 years to score a first-grade century and it could not have come ata more important time.

Warburton, 37, hit 105 at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, to help the 'Bar to 251 against Marist Brothers as his club strives to crack a spot in the Far North Coast LJ Hooker League cricket semi-finals.

For a player who bleeds the maroon of the 'Bar, it was a just reward for decades of determination and his milestone was celebrated by his teammates and club supporters.

"I'm still seeing the ball pretty well, moving the feet okay and feel pretty good," Warburton said yesterday.

"I've scored five centuries in second grade in the past few years but it was great to finally get one in first grade."

Warburton, a left-hander, was part of two of the three Hooker League premierships won by Tintenbar-East Ballina, when they defeated Alstonville in the final in 2000-01 and Norths-Goonellabah RSL inthe final in 2002-03.

He missed the other premiership - which came with a win over Souths in the final in 2005-06 - while he was working as a builder and playing cricket in Cambridge, England, for 18 months.

Warburton's senior cricket with Tintenbar pre-dates the Hooker League.

He recalls playing Ballina District A-grade as a 17-year-old in the early 1990s, with memories of facing John McMahon bowl-ing for Wardell during the former Queensland Sheffield Shield spinner's final seasons in the top grade.

But 20 years of baking summer sun and many a long night at "The Shawsy", the club's perennial watering hole, clearly have not blunted the reflexes or his love of the game.

His chanceless century last Saturday has put Tintenbar in a solid position but, as he says, "it's a really good pitch".

"The total is probably borderline," he said.

"We were hoping for 300.

"We'll need to have a really good first hour."

Marist Brothers will resume at 1-18.

With his team running sev-enth behind a logjam of other semi-final contenders, Warburton knows they not only need to win this one, but also probably take the points in the final two rounds against Alstonville and Lennox Head.

IT'S BACK TO THE 'BAR

IT will be a case of "Back to the 'Bar" tomorrow at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina.

Tintenbar-East Ballina is hosting an old boys' day, with all former players and supporters welcome to call in.

The club will be out to complete an important Hooker League win over Marist Brothers on the turf wicket while on adjoining Kingsford Smith North the Tintenbar fourth grade team will go around against Bangalow.


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