HE'S just enjoyed the best season of his career, now Taree West cricket product Nick Larkin is heading to Northern Ireland hoping to secure a place in the Irish team for next summer's World Cup to be played in Australia and New Zealand.
Larkin, now 23, was a member of the Sydney University side that won the Sydney first grade premiership last weekend. In an amazing game, Sydney Uni recovered from being dismissed for just 37 in their first innings to beat Bankstown outright by three wickets at Hurstville. Another Manning product, Dave Miller, was also a member of the Sydney Uni team.
An opening batsman, Larkin was his side's top scorer for the season, accumulating an impressive 1055 runs at 42. He also represented NSW in the Futures League as well as the State Second XI. He was having a lean run in the representative arena with the bat until he cracked 113 for the Second XI against ACT in the last match.
He leaves for Northern Ireland later this month and will be there for five months.
"All I do is train and play cricket and it's good to be able to do that,'' Larkin said.
He believes his stint overseas last year was among the reasons for his great form in Sydney.
"This is the first time I've made able to score 1000 runs in a season,'' he said.
"I think the experience I gained overseas has helped, while I'm not putting as much pressure on myself now I'm more relaxed and that obviously played a part.''
Larkin said his form last season in Northern Ireland was solid. Good enough, in fact, to gain a spot in the Northern Ireland representative side for the match against the Republic XI, where he scored a double century.
He qualifies for Irish selection by virtue of his grandfather on his mother's side. "I have an Irish passport,'' he said.
Larkin said that the standard cricket in Northern Ireland lags behind Sydney first grade.
"It's like all League cricket in the UK, it lacks a bit of depth,'' he said.
However, he added that he'll have to do more in the northern summer than he did last year if he's going to gain a berth in the Irish side for the World Cup. At this stage he hasn't decided if he'll go back for a third stint after this season admitting that it does get a bit tough away from home.
A start in the World Cup with Ireland would be an obvious career high. However, Larkin also hopes he may be on the radar for NSW selectors.
"I suppose I'm as good a chance as anyone if I can keep scoring runs,'' he said.
Larkin's brother, Ben, also played for Sydney Uni but has now started employment in Newcastle. He'll be turning out with Newcastle Uni next season, where the captain is yet another Taree West junior, Luke Bird. Miller, who played for Old Bar in the Manning competition, spent a summer playing in London last season, but isn't returning. Miller also had a strong season with Sydney Uni this year with 420 runs at 22 and taking 18 wickets at 19.
Larkin and Miller have been involved with Sydney Uni in the past six seasons during one of the most successful eras in the club's long history. This includes three two day first grade premierships, one one day premiership and a win in the under 21 competition. They were also club champions this year.
"Our cricket has pretty well mirrored each other since we were in under 10s in Taree,'' Larkin noted.