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Winter-Irving praises Tigers mentors

Hamish Winter-Irving has praised his Central Park-St Brendan's mentors, Rohan Larkin and Brendan Kenna, ahead of Footscray-Edgewater's Victorian Premier Cricket grand final.

DAMEN FRANCIS March 27, 2014 4:05am

Former Central Park-St Brendan’s fast bowler Hamish Winter-Irving will line up for Footscray-Edgewater in this weekend’s Victorian Premier Cricket grand final.

Footscray-Edgewater speedster Hamish Winter-Irving has paid tribute to his former Central Park-St Brendan’s mentors ahead of this weekend’s Victorian Premier Cricket grand final.

The three-day final starts tomorrow, when his Bulldogs take on Essendon at Junction Oval.

A Nagambie native, Winter-Irving attended Shepparton’s Notre Dame College and joined the Tigers in 2008, going on to win back-to-back Haisman Shield premierships under Rohan Larkin in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

He said the likes of Larkin and now-Mooroopna coach Brendan Kenna had been instrumental in his development in those formative years.

‘‘The standard wasn’t the best at home in Nagambie and I always wanted to make that move to Melbourne,’’ Winter-Irving said.

‘‘They (Larkin and Kenna) coached me in Northern Rivers under-16s and 18s and they played huge parts in my time as a junior up-and-comer and where I am now I wouldn’t have been able to get there without those two.’’

Now in his third season of premier cricket, Winter-Irving has spent most of the season opening the bowling with ex-South Australia first class quick Jake Haberfield.

He has taken 29 first XI wickets this season — more than anyone at the club outside Haberfield — and nearly double last year’s haul of 15.

Winter-Irving forfeited the new ball to returning Test-capped all-rounder John Hastings last week, but had no problem with the decision and embraced the opportunity to learn from such experienced cricketers.

As much as he is a front-line bowler, Winter-Irving has played a key role with the bat in recent weeks.

He is unbeaten in his last three innings batting at number nine and his 13 not out proved as important as his 1-29 with the ball in the thrilling 24-run semi-final win against Geelong.

Winter-Irving turned 21 on Tuesday and he said a first XI premiership would be the best birthday present he could ask for.

The only way it could be better is if his older brother was alongside him, but Mitch, 22, looks certain to miss out, despite making nine first XI appearances during the season.

Last time the pair played together in a grand final was the successful 2009-10 Haisman Shield decider against Karramomus.

‘‘I really enjoy playing alongside him and to have him in the side is a credit to him, because he’s still travelling back and forth (from Bendigo) to play cricket,’’ Winter-Irving said.

‘‘Last year he missed out on the seconds final, because he got hit on the finger and got a broken finger.

‘‘I do feel for him, but in the end, we’ve got to take our best side out onto the field.’’

Footscray-Edgewater won its only first XI premiership in season 1979-80 and Winter-Irving was hopeful of the club breaking its drought this weekend.

‘‘Last week was amazing for us, we thought we were down and out ... we still don’t know how we got there, but we’re there now and hopefully we’ll grab it with two hands,’’ he said.

‘‘What Rohan told me is a lot of people play their whole career down here and they never make one, so for me to be playing in a grand final and hopefully be a part of a winning side would be fantastic.’’

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