Larkin shows Ireland what he can do
At the sixth and final time of asking, the RSA inter-provincial championship has served up a day's play worthy of its name – and it was the champions who were under the cosh.
On a day of records, Nick Larkin, North Down's Australia-born Irish passport-holder, became the first batsman to score a double century in an inter-pro with the Northern Knights' 412 for three already the highest ever total.
Only Obus Pienaar, the Waringstown professional, has scored more at The Lawn and the North Down opener will get the chance to add to his career-best score on day two, as the Knights go for the kill.
They still need to take 20 wickets to force the win, which will not be easy on this superb batting track, but it is sure to take an increasing amount of turn before the game finishes tomorrow.
Chris Dougherty shared a first wicket stand of 169 – another best for the season – with Larkin, Craig Ervine hit 50 and Nigel Jones can hardly be termed a failure after a run-a-ball 23 before he got arguably the best ball of the day from Lightning captain John Mooney.
James Shannon has struggled for form all season, but the Ireland international showed more than a few glimpses of his class – indeed he was the only batsman not to enjoy a 'life' – to finish the day 28 not out, but everything was overshadowed by Larkin.
He gave the most straightforward of chances to wicket-keeper Ben Ackland on 69 and how costly that has proved to be.
Cool Larkin has already faced 299 deliveries and hit 21 boundaries, four of them coming in one over off young Peter Chase as he charged through the 'nervous nineties' to his fine 100 from 143 balls.
Larkin has ambitions of playing for Ireland in the future, once he has completed his qualifying period, but there wasn't an Irish selector in sight yesterday, all finding something better to do. They missed the best day's cricket of the summer.