Top honour for Lismore talent

FORMER Lismore cricketer Tom Cooper took out the Ryobi Cup's One-Day Player of the Year award and has "the best drive in Australia".

But he only got to the elite level because of sheer hard work according to his former mentor John McMahon.

Cooper scored 366 runs at an average of 73.20 for South Australia in the national competition.

He was also picked in the Sheffield Shield Team of the Year after notching 682 runs at an average of 48.71 - the fourth highest amount of runs.

Former North Coast coaching director McMahon, who had a lot to do with Cooper's development as a junior player, said the top-order batsman spent countless hours honing his technique.

That hard work has paid off with Cooper now on the verge of being picked in the Australian team.

"Tom's the best driver of a ball in Australia and that's pretty much universally recognised," McMahon said.

"He had a good eye as a junior but he wasn't a natural; he just worked really hard.

"Nobody deserves this recognition more than he does.

"Now it's just a matter of him becoming more athletic if he wants to make the Australian side but it's very hard for him to dive around in the field because he's so tall.

"It's sensational news because Tom's a perfectionist."

Cooper relocated to South Australia for an opportunity to play first-class cricket and the move has paid dividends.

"Tom had a couple of seasons in the Sydney grade competition playing for the University of NSW and at that stage they had so many NSW players who were in the Test side," McMahon said. "He admitted his last season in Sydney wasn't successful."

The 25-year-old put his disappointment about not being considered by the NSW selectors behind him this summer.

He scored a memorable 203 not out against his former state in November after he blasted 100 not out against the Blues in a one-day game in October.