The final round of the regular season on the weekend, and while two of MUCC’s men’s Premier XI’s will play finals, Saturday was the swansong for a Uni legend; Fourth XI skipper, Laban Ditchburn playing his final match. A Student since 2006/07, Ditch has been the Fourth XI captain for ten years – seeing him responsible for many a MUCCer’s first taste of the club. With 189 matches under his slim-fit leather belt, Laban also led his side to Premiership glory in 2012/13. Having made an indelible impact, he will also leave an irreplaceable legacy; his boundless energy and positivity invaluable in any club environment. Thank you for all that you have done, Laban. #Oeesh
Considering it rained all week, the groundsman at Walter-Galt forewent rolling out a wicket, preferring simply to put 22-yards of the neighbouring Nepean Highway in the middle of the ground. Flat wicket and sunny conditions; Uni would bowl first, backing themselves to chase anything on the high-scoring ground. Though one opening batsman played with an enviable end-of-season freedom, Stafford broke through at the other end, before Scammell, in his last match as an unmarried man, nabbed three in quick succession to have the Hawks 4/64. Though Newell continued to make batting look easy at one end, Uni imposed something of a snap lockdown at the other (apologies if you’re reading in QLD), as wickets continued to fall, and the run rate slowed. When Martignago executed a stunning off-balance direct-hit run out to have the opener caught short of his ground on 99, Uni were all but through. Scammell returned and secured two more wickets to complete his first 5-wicket haul as a Student. A game-breaking effort, it would secure our chiselled all-rounder some all-important Scholar’s Cross votes as well…
Craving rhythm on the eve of the finals, Saturday’s run chase provided one last chance for the top-order to fill their boots with runs and confidence. And so it was.
McKenna and Martignago had one of those delightfully enjoyable days at the crease. With a poetic sense of ease, they each worked their way into the innings, growing in both confidence extravagance. Rarely will you see a pair make batting look easier, picking off singles at will, they found the boundary with little fuss too. Contrasting styles; Marty crouching low and ramping the ball over the wicket-keeper, McKenna stood tall and bludgeoned the ball back past the bowler as they both passed 50. Though falling in pursuit of a bonus point, McKenna (76) batted beautifully and in setting up his side for a victory, continued his fine record at Walter Galt.
Not done there, Martignago continued on his merry way. As Uni neared the total and Jarrod his century, James McNeil happily patted balls back down the wicket to ensure Uni’s resident logistical manager would have a chance at the three-figures. With less than four required, Jarrod popped one over the gully and scampered back for a second, bringing up his second century as a MUCCer. In complete control from the first, Jarrod’s innings was the sort that Uni has been crying out for over recent weeks, and the kind that will help take the Students deep into April. Great work, J!
Utterly dominant, Uni completed their challenge of not dropping a point across the last six weeks to secure a spot in the finals. Having played high-stakes cricket for an extended period, they give themselves the best preparation as they face the True Blues in week one of the finals on Saturday.
Washout at the Main
The wicket green and soft, the Hawks were quick to send Uni into bat on the weekend. Valid considering the strength of the Students’ bowling attack, unfortunately for the Hawks, there was no shortfall in Uni’s batting stocks, either.
Yousaf Iqbal was typically stylish in his innings of 19, a promising start, as was did Elliott Durrant (25). Though wickets were falling at one end, Hugo Bienvenu remained resolute at the other. Hugo, who has had an excellent season in his own right, is really coming into his own. Making batting look straightforward when it was anything but, Hugo anchored the innings with strength that must come from his particularly vascular forearms. Playing shots all around the ground – though most pleasingly straight down it – Hugo passed 50 and was well on track for a century when an unbelievable caught and bowled saw him short on 87. Worth well in excess of a hundred, Huggsy’s innings helped get the Students close to 200. Lachie Melican (25) added some cream to Hugo’s cake, and Uni finished 5/191.
Everyone’s favourite comeback story, James Browning was back in the coloured clothing on the weekend and breaking through for early wickets. Sending stumps left and right, it is a pleasure to see JB in full flight. Though there was plenty there for the seamers, it was the spin that did the bulk of the damage on the weekend. Yousaf Iqbal, who has bowled well all year, was simply too good on the weekend. Not giving the Hawks a chance to settle, our ‘Italian Stallion’ spun them all out, taking the game-breaking figures of 6/13. Spinning the ball both ways, Yousaf was on a hat-trick twiceduring the innings, a particular highlight the removal of batsmen 6-11 for a cumulative total of one run. An outstanding effort, well played, ‘Balo!
Rounding out their season with a dominant bonus point victory, it was a case of what might have been for the Third XI in season 20/21, their best clearly more than good enough, they will be back better than ever next year.
In his final game, Laban lost the toss, but the Kingston skipper extended an olive branch, electing to bat on a soft wicket at Princes Park.
It was Tama Stockley, whose impressive form this season continued on Saturday, breaking through first thing. With three more wickets to his season tally, Tamagotchi the bowler is in much better condition than Tamagotchi the you – production long discontinued. Rithin Rakes – bowling leg breaks – also nabbed an early wicket thanks to an outstanding diving catch from Toby Rawlings, who, incidentally donated his left collar bone to the cause. Khush Talati was also impressive, his crash and bash style earning him two wickets as the Studetns restricted Kingston to just 56 all out. The sort of score that suggests the fielding skipper made all the right moves… 😉
Chasing a low total, Uni were not without their early innings wobbles, Akon Mawien removed for a duck. As wickets continued to fall, Uni needed someone to stand tall in the middle order to steady the ship. Ditchburn, who has batted in every spot in the order over the course of his career, played a captain’s knock of 13 from 37 balls to get Uni within touching distance of victory, before a resolute Hayden Lim calmed everyone’s nerves. Eventually passing the score six wickets down, Uni can be proud of their efforts to secure a victory in Laban’s final game.
For a full archive of the season’s news, previews and reports, just click: HERE