Dominant in the top two XI’s on the weekend thanks to a number of special individual performances, the Students will be hoping to find more consistency across the grades in the coming weeks.
After a week of heavy rain, (I’ve heard rain can be measured in points, so let’s say there were five points, because that’s how many Uni were chasing) Ryan and Jez had done a terrific job to get such a good wicket prepared at the Uni Main. Steven Reid was in absentia at the start of play due to night-shift running over time, so Uni were unperturbed to be batting first.
Though the ball nipped around early, openers McKenna and Martignago made a steady start with another nod to the world famous high society nightclub (>30 partnership). Unfortunately, once the Swans found their radar, three wickets fell in quick succession, to leave Uni in trouble at 3/40. Enter James McNeil. Magga, who has taken to blasting attacks apart in the latter half of the innings thus far for season 20/21, had a different role to play on Saturday. Naturally, he walked at the bowler his first ball, and scored his first runs by lofting straight down the ground. Embracing his natural aggression, McNeil’s counter-attack challenged the opposition and meant Uni kept the scoreboard moving forward. After the loss of Yaksender (15), Croes and McNeil (whose partnership at the crease is almost as effective as it is on the fairway) went to work yet again. Finding gaps and singles at will, the pair were also prepared to take the game to Casey with power in their partnership of 96. Croes (41) is building nicely and making batting look particularly easy. Meanwhile, as wickets continued to fall around him, McNeil raced past 50, and if it weren’t for running repairs on his jockstrap, he would have been scoring at more than a run-a-minute. Eventually dismissed for 94 from 98 balls, the skipper showed the way on a wicket that continued to nip around for the duration of Uni’s innings. Cut cruelly short of a century, his captain’s knock was crucial in pushing Uni beyond 200, giving his bowlers something to defend. Some big hitting from Simon Mackin (35*) gave the Students the momentum heading into the bowling innings, as the Students were bowled out in the 50th over for 237.
Having saved a life in the morning, Reidy was back at the Main and ready to ruin some batsmen’s afternoons. It was his opening partner, however, who made the first breakthrough. Mackin with an early wicket to have the Swans 1/16. Not to be held down, Papa Dos claimed his 300th First XI wicket not soon after. Keen to make it a special one, Reidy waited until former Sri Lankan international, Thilakarathna Dilshan was on strike; a short ball hitting him high on the bat – the chance gleefully accepted by Jaz at mid-wicket. An exceptional achievement, Dos is only the third MUCCer in history to snare 300 First XI wickets, and with many more to come we are all very proud of him.
Once Dilshan was out, it was a procession from the Students. Liam Scammell demonstrated an exceptional ability both to bowl and celebrate into the wind; his six over spell yielding three wickets and three fantastic celebrations. Along with Scammell, Ben Rolfs was outstanding yet again, not missing a beat after his spell in quarantine, claiming another three wickets to lead to First XI wicket takers, with two less matches. James Bett was stingy again, also claiming a wicket, as Uni eventually bowled Casey out for 142. A victory worth five points (insert rain gag here) Uni have worked their way into third position on the ladder.
In a peculiar turn of events, it did not stop raining once at Casey Fields on Saturday, but not a ball of play was lost as the Students and the Swans pushed through the adverse conditions.
Batting first, opener Isiah Borgas in his return match noted that he had “forgotten how to bat” for the first ten overs of the innings. As a fellow batsman, I’m equal parts impressed and jealous that he could last that long under such circumstances. As expected, however, Borg dug around the deep recesses of his brain and found the batting handbook; ‘Item 1A, big step, cover drive’ naturally, Borg soon passed 50… Uni’s top six mostly got in, and the Casey Sniper even made a cameo appearance, out for Diesel’s hamstring. Uni’s momentum couldn’t be hamstrung, however, as Jeremy Peacock batted beautifully in his first innings in the Second XI. Demonstrating patience and class, Jez brought up a maiden Second XI 50 at the conclusion of the innings, to give the Students an imposing 6/227 from their 50 overs.
Once again, Akon Mawien struck in his first over to have Casey 1/2, and having travelled from Sunshine to Casey, AK decided he’d better take at least a couple of wickets back with him, so the big fella crashed through for the second wicket of the innings as well. Mark Stafford was also a class above with the new ball, his figures perhaps not indicative of just how well he bowled – as the big quick passed the bat on numerous occasions. Once again it was the spin twins who put the clamps on for Uni through the middle. jMac (Uni’s take on the early 2000’s iMac) was in fine form claiming two wickets, while Doug – who had a nightmare on Friday night that Diesel would not throw him the ball to bowl, found cricket was much more enjoyable when conscious, claiming 3/30. A comprehensive display, Uni bowled the Swans out for 156, also claiming a BP to take with them back up the highway.
Despite the best efforts of a number of MUCCers on Thursday night, some water found its way under the covers at PP3. Thankfully there was not enough water to lose any play, and bowling first, Uni had the better of the conditions.
Boasting a bowling attack that could easily stand up at the Second XI level, it was Tom Walker who claimed the first two wickets. Having fired off some well-deserved lip during the Tuesday running session last week, TJ was clearly full of fire and it showed in his 9 over 2/26 spell. James Browning was also steady, claiming a wicket, but Casey managed to establish decent partnerships, preventing Uni from running through. Dan McNab was predictably impressive, claiming 2/25 from his 9 overs to help wrestle back some momentum through the middle of the innings. Though they never really got away, Casey could be pleased with their eventual score of 185, and Uni would need to bat well to take the points.
The early loss of Kennedy and Durrant set Uni on the back foot. Happily, Hugsy Bienvenu is pretty good off the back foot. The stylish left-hander continued his good run of form, working his way to 40 before he was unfortunately run out. Sam Skinner (37) and Lucien Bienvenu (41) provided some stability and valuable runs through the middle, but ultimately too much work was left to too few, as regular wickets made it hard for the Students to really get going in the run chase. Another close loss, the Third XI fell 20 runs short.
A dirty day for the Fourth XI, it was all about the Swans at Casey Fields #5. Batting first, Jimmy Anderson was the only one of the top six to reach double figures. With Uni reeling at 7/42, it was Om Patel who provided some resistance and counter attack. Blasting a much needed 47, the crafty all-rounder helped add some respectability to the score line, but he didn’t have enough friends as Uni were bowled out for 99 in just 31 overs.
With the ball, it was always going to be tough work to defend such a score on a good wicket but opening bowler Tama Stockley was not just going to roll over. Claiming 2/14 from six overs, the Stock Pot gave the Swans something to think about, but no other bowlers were able to break through as Casey cruised to victory. Plenty to think about, the Fourth XI will be back better than ever next week against Prahran.