Long innings over for Champion

HIS trusty Symonds bat is wrapped in black electrical tape and has seen better days - but it has done the job for Legana cricketer Ian Champion.

One of the TCL's most talented batting all-rounders is calling it quits after 22 seasons in the competition.

The 43-year-old, left-hand, middle-order batsman is hanging up his favourite piece of willow after wielding it with distinction first with Normanstone and then Legana - terrorising opposition attacks and scoring around 8500 runs.

"I have played about 320 TCL games all up and that is a lot of interrupted weekends so I decided it was time to move on to the next phase," Champion said.

"I've had the bat for about 21 years - when Troy Cooley was playing for the state it was a sponsor's bat.

"He gave it to a bloke I played with at Normanstone called Dale Hainsworth.

"I borrowed it every week for about a year and when I made my first hundred with it he gave it to me.

"I bought a new Gray-Nicolls bat about six or seven years ago and it didn't stack up so I went back to the old faithful."

Champion's highest TCL score of 201 was scored against Birralee in 1999, but he rates his hundred in last year's preliminary final loss to Trevallyn as probably his best innings.

"We were 9-70, chasing about 220, and Mike Dunn and I put on 94 for the last wicket and he did a great job to hang around while I had a bit of fun."

He has been an integral part of Legana's success in a golden era over the past 10 years with the club making six A-grade finals and winning four premierships.

Champion rates those four flags, along with playing in the inaugural Aussie 15s tournament at Aurora Stadium, as career highlights.

"We played in five grand finals in a row and it was really great fun and such a roll," he said.

"I've played with some great cricketers including Matty Cocker who I always got on well with and respected the type of bloke he is and the way he played.

"The same with Jason Savage down at Beauty Point, Jamie (McClenaghan) who was a great clubman and cricketer and Matty Wells - we've played some great cricket together including at Normanstone years ago."

•Legana opening batsman Gary McCarron played his final A-grade game last weekend but will still be involved with the club.

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