Like any good gym program, the Students’ results were top-heavy on the weekend. Claiming victory in the First and Second XI’s, University suffered narrow defeats in the Third and Fourth XI fixtures. Perhaps a full body blast during the week is all that is needed to set things right.
La Niña notwithstanding, the sun was beating down at the Main on Saturday morning. Favourable though the conditions were, it wouldn’t stop opening batter Harrison Emms making his traditional quip to Ryan upon arrival:
“Gee, bit green isn’t it mate?”
Pleasantries exchanged, the cricket could commence, and with University batting first, the new-look partnership of Emms and Croes went about their work. Though Croey fell short on the golf course on Friday evening (new tech not all it’s cracked up to be?) he would not be found wanting first thing on Saturday; playing his characteristic pull-stroke with aplomb, he gave Uni a fast start. A quick flurry of wickets, however, saw the Tigers wrestle back some momentum with score at 3/65.
Happily, it was arguably Uni’s strongest pair who went about a rebuild. Gregory – whose seamless return to cricket suggests he is more likely to miss a beat on a dancefloor than a cricket field (written from a glass house whilst throwing a stone) – played with typical maturity in the delicate situation. Working his way into his innings, Gregs was measured and controlled for the entirety of his 53. Partnering with Andrej, it was a pleasure to see normal service resume. Cut shots, cover drives and a cheeky grin throughout, Yak was typically impressive as he made 73 to help push the Students beyond 200. Dismissed in the selfless pursuit of runs, he tried his best not to smile as he accepted the warm applause of his teammates; incredibly, that seems to be the part of batting he finds most challenging.
A lusty northbound blow over the pavilion from Mackin and some (very) fast running from Rolfsy saw Uni close at 7/227.
With the ball, Uni were steady at the top, preventing a fast start that would have given the Tigers an early sniff. Having overcome his frustration at being asked to pad up to bat at 10, Fawad went to work with the ball. Bowling with what looked like great control from deep cover, Fuzzy (2/29) completely dried up the scoring rate and drew a pair of loose shots that got Uni moving. Working in tandem with Gregs, they put the Tigers behind the eight ball. A dynamic innings from Fraser-McGurk gave Richmond a chance, but again it was that man Gregory who had him caught behind point, all but shutting the door on the chase. A fine spell of death bowling from Mark Stafford – whose provision of an Allen’s party mix is almost as reliable as his yorker – secured victory as the Tigers fell 8 runs short.
Much to Hugo’s chagrin, Lucien couldn’t decide what he would like for breakfast as the pair made a pit-stop on their way to Central Reserve. A well thought out plan to arrive on time from Newport foiled by an egg and bacon sandwich.
Bowling first, Lucien’s food would have to wait, but it was new man, Jamin Barron-Toop who made early inroads with the ball. Claiming his first wicket courtesy of an edge and a catch behind, it would be a long time between wickets as a disciplined stump to stump method was met with some solid batting. Om Patel was miserly (odd for a man whose nursery business is selling more plants than it can grow) and James Bett was as reliable as ever through the middle. Late wickets to TOG, Warren and JBT helped prevent a real launch from the Tigers, and meant Uni would need to chase 235 for victory.
Never easy batting second at Central, it would take a unified effort from the Students to get the chocolates. Josh Hahnel (19) was impressive against some good bowling at the top of the order, his style and “passion” on display for all to see…
With the score teetering at 3/50, Uni needed someone to step up. Hugo (36) was impressive, but it was the coach who showed the way. With a loyal Kookaburra bat that broke in the process, Diesel played a fine innings as he crafted a stunning 81 at better than a run-a-ball. On a day and a surface where scoring quickly was difficult, D rotated strike and found the boundary on five occasions to put the Students in a winning position and earn the first TRP Player of the Week.. An effort finished off by Jeremy Peacock (27), James Horn (27) and James Bett (13), it was a wonderful way for the Second XI to get their season going, taking it deep and taking the points.
If you owned a watch and you were keen to set it to something, I might recommend Sam Skinner’s pre-match net at the Main before he heads to PP3. A fine routine, batting would have to take a back seat for a while, as the Third XI bowled first against the Tigers.
Taking a break from producing high quality content for the Cricket Performance Lab, Tama Stockley clearly had all of his data points in order as he bowled beautifully at the top to claim 3/26 from 7 overs. Breaking the game apart, the Tigers were able to rebuild somewhat through the middle, though a steady flow of wickets keep the scoreboard in check. UV Rays (2/26) was impressive with his off-breaks, while KD also claimed a wicket in a brief but economical spell.
Set 198 for victory, Uni would need to bat well on a flat Princes Park wicket. Though they lost Skinner early, Durrant (39) and the HB Pencil (34) were impressive and helped to get things on the right track. Unfortunately, Pencil had a collision with the BodyFit ambassador Jayden Kennedy running between the wickets and was rubbed out of the remainder of the match, having to retire hurt. From there Uni struggle for momentum, though Yuvraj Singh completed an outstanding all-round match with 30 off 27 balls. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough as the Students fell 15 runs short.
Plenty of room to grow, Uni can take some confidence from this first encounter.
Director of Cricket, Antony Keely’s youth policy was on full display in the Fourth XI on Saturday. After the late withdrawal of Ed Savill, Jimmy Anderson took the reins as the Students batted first at Central Reserve.
As all batters got starts, Uni built a solid foundation with the bat. Muntasir (23) and Run Machine Raf Epstein (18) were steady at the top of the order before Anderson played a captain’s hand with 34. Looking for a partnership to give the innings something of a kick along, how fitting that it would come from two players who have just recently completed their Year 12 studies. Will Keeble (48) and Harrison Preiss (20) played with a freedom that only comes with no responsibilities and is inspired by a midweek pint. Shame they’ll be on Schoolies next week.
With 151 on the board, Khush Talati made a great start with the ball. Claiming two wickets, he got the ball rolling for the Students, before Ram Nayak bowled an inspired spell of 3/20. Great reward for consistent effort, it is wonderful to see Johnny reap the rewards. Unfortunately, the rest of the attack went wicketless and some destructive batting from the Tigers saw them move past the total with two overs to spare.
An impressive effort from a young and inexperienced team, look for the Fourth XI to kick into gear next week.