FIRST class cricketers can strive all their lives and never get the opportunity handed to a bunch of Ipswich park cricketers.
Ipswich Last Man Standing team - the 2nd XI - has earned the right to play at the home of cricket, Lord's, after winning the Australian Last Man Standing Championships in Canberra.
The 2nd XI beat Canberra team Three Short in the final, earning a shot at the world championships in London next year.
The final win, in which its 175 was too good for Three Short's 166, capped an undefeated, six-match tournament.
The team might not have done so without the heroics of star player Taylor Peach.
Peach scored 279 in his six innings at a strike rate of 230 (230 runs per 100 deliveries faced).
In the final, he made 84 not out from 25 deliveries. He also took 7-128 from his 23 overs throughout the tournament.
"He was the standout in the grand final," 2nd XI captain Marty Henderson said.
"He's a young gun who has played a lot of cricket. He certainly can smash the ball."
The 2nd XI went to Canberra confident it could take the main prize.
"We had a feeling we'd come pretty close," Henderson said.
"We went down last time when it was in Sydney and just missed out. We made the quarter-finals."
The 2nd XI has won several Ipswich titles and won the most recent Brisbane title, so is no novice to the Last Man Standing competition.
"We've played for a while now in this format," Henderson said.
"It's eight-a-side, so there are no slips fielders.
"You've got to have your fielders out.
"Singles are nothing."
Now they have to try to repeat the formula at Lord's next year.
"It's a fantastic opportunity," Henderson said.
"We never thought a bunch of mates would be in a local team that takes us off to Lord's."
They are not such a bunch of casuals as Henderson makes out.
Peach has represented Australia at indoor cricket at under-16 level.
"We've spent plenty of years in cricket and most of us have played grade," Henderson said.
"We've got a solid top five or six batters and it is the same with our bowling.
"There are five or six guys who can all put in the same amount," he said.
"Most of our side does play (11-a-side cricket).
"But there is no bigger opportunity in cricket than in an eight-a-side comp."
Their main challenge now is raising the money required to get them all to London.
"We're looking to do whatever we can," Henderson said.
"We've certainly had a good start.
"There's a bit of a buzz about."
The new Ipswich Last Man Standing season begins on Sunday.