For twelve years and 199 matches at the Main, Mark Stafford has been a favourite Student. Unbelievably talented and hard-working, Squid is the proud owner of an astonishing Premier Cricket record. With 327 wickets at 23.33, his outswingers, bumpers and “accidental yorkers” have accounted for most of the competition at least once and helped Uni to bountiful on-field success.
More than though, Squid is – as James Bett observed on Thursday night – “what every MUCCer should aspire to be.” Kind, caring and endlessly selfless, Squid is a multiple-time Club-Person of the Year, a MUCC Life Member and a close friend to anyone lucky enough to pull on the Baggy Black.
So, for always putting a smile on the face of your teammates, for putting those around you at ease, and for 199 Natural Confectionary Party Mixes, thank you, Squid. Good luck in 200 – we can’t wait to celebrate with you!
How fitting that in his 200th match as a Student, Squid will have the chance to help the First XI secure a Finals berth. A must-win encounter, Uni will need to blow over the Bombers at Windy Hill and have one other result go their way; but as James McNeil would say, “don’t count your cats before you’ve let them out of the bag.”
In any case, it’s a heck of a side that will line up for Uni in the North West. After a stunning showing last week, Janak Prakash will be keen to continue his impressive form with the ball. An unnamed (and now battered and bruised) source can confirm that he was moving it around more than enough on Thursday cuasing a good many “Owies!” Look out, Bombers.
Fellow seamer Simon Mackin will also feel at home on Saturday. Responsible for the North West in his role at CV, Mackin has been willing to shuffle the magnets; coaching restructure item 1 on his agenda. Moreover, King is coming off a cool and composed performance on Premier Cricket TV. With an easy style and affable approachability, Simon could become something of a regular on the panel.
Fergus McKenna will be keen to lead the side to victory on Saturday. Not far from URBNSURF where he celebrated his birthday last year, Ferg was all style on the board, but one question remains, “how much for a push?”
PLAYER TO WATCH: Doug Warren
A middling sweet’Nsour pork before training on Tuesday afternoon not enough to throw our left arm tweaker off kilter, Warren could be in for a big game on Saturday. A match-winner no doubt, Warren trained in full kit after photos on Thursday night; his desire to practice how he plays an admirable one.
Always some added feeling in a Second XI MUCC V Essendon fixture, it harks back to the famous tied semi-final of season 18/19. A point of consternation? Perhaps, and as Ted said, “If God would have wanted games to end in a tie, she wouldn’t have invented numbers.”
Despite the ideas you might get from his concerned Instagram video content, James Horn’s job is well intact; the wicket-keeper returning to the Second XI on Saturday. Joined by Jamon Barron-Toop the pair could well combine for a couple of edged behind wickets.
That said, Jez, who will almost certainly lock away Scholars’ Cross on Saturday, is adamant he has rolled out a flatty. Having broken his screwdriver when he went to mark his own run-up in the wicket on Friday afternoon, could it be something of a “step-hit strip?”
As it relates to step-hitting, Daniel Hutton did a bit of it last week and Isaiah Borgas could be the man tomorrow. A class above when he gets himself in, Borg was a touch miffed by the luscious nature of Tom Walker’s hair on Thursday – rivalling his own lengthy locks. The skipper might be out to make a statement on Saturday.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Michael Forwood
He denied that his haircut was solely for club photo night. Instead, Bricks assured us it was because employment is on the horizon at Zimt Patisserie. Another fine eatery of the inner-east, they boast one of the best sweet cabinets in the business; should Mik get the job, there’ll be no shortage of yummies at the Main! Of course, if there’s one thing that a Danish, donut or pain-au-chocolat is good for, it’s fuelling a big score.
A spot in the top-four on the line, the Third XI welcome back Lachie Melican for their crucial clash with the Bombers. Playing at Cross Keys, the recent Moonee Valley Master Plan on the pavilion has recently been completed, aligning nicely with the Students’ Master Plan of a bonus point victory.
Boasting the deepest batting line-up in Premier Cricket has seen for a long time, the Third XI will be flush for power at the top of the list, while Sam Skinner will no doubt play an invaluable role through the middle. Training in daylight for the first time in a long time on Thursday, Skinny made the most of it; scooping, ramping and flat-batting his way through a dominant 15 minutes.
To that end, Lucien Bienvenu chose the busiest night of the year at the Clyde to complete some work at the pub. “On the tools,” Bienvenu was busily ensuring that Hostplus’ sponsorship of the Gold Coast Suns remains a mutually beneficial relationship. Deliverables notwithstanding, Lucien has cleared his Saturday for a big day in the middle.
PLAYER TO WATCH: John McLaughlan
Venetian Dwayne. Arguably the longest bow that has been drawn with a MUCC nickname in the last seven years, the beauty of the floating city is matched only by the shape that John imparts on the ball. His off-breaks having already troubled their fair share of batters in season 21/22, McLaughlan could roll through another line-up tomorrow.
Although Finals might be out of the question for the Fourth XI, valuable Club Championship points are up for grabs tomorrow as the young squad looks to finish the season on a high. Rithin Rakes and Khush Talati both return to the side tomorrow, providing spin and seam respectively.
Again, Dias and Pedley will share the captaincy responsibilities at PP3 on Saturday. Inspired by the lessons learned from Ed Savill (conference in Barcelona? Half your luck), they will lead the team in a positive – if boisterous – display.
Tom Uhr-Henry will be out to impress on Saturday. After chatting all things wrist position with Tom Walker on Thursday night, he could be a nightmare for the opposition with an unrivalled ability to hit the rope.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ali Khan
Last to leave training on Thursday night, Ali was busily blistering it to all parts with Jerry under lights. With one last chance in season 21/22, Ali will be keen to cap off the season on a good note with a big score!