FIONA: “You didn’t slay the dragon?!”
SHREK: “It’s on my to-do list, now come on!”
Much like Dreamworks’ favourite ogre, the Students also have dragon slaying on their to-do list as they take on Northcote tomorrow. It looks like they’ll have to do it quickly, too, with the BOM predicting a good dose of rain. Never mind, because, in the words of Donkey, “things might seem bad because it’s dark and rainy… but it’ll be better in the morning!”
Round 15 also marks a pair of milestones; Drew notching 100 rounds of hugs and woeful warm-up games, while Jezza P ticks past 50 dominant all-round performances.
Fresh from thumping around the Big Bash, Peter Hatzoglou returns for his first match as a Student since 2019/20. Incidentally that match was also against Northcote, when Peter spent large parts of the game suggesting the Dragons “didn’t look like the kinds of people who would have remembered to pay for a parking ticket.” When he wasn’t getting inside their heads, he was getting them out. Expect that trend to continue.
Harrison Emms also returns to the First XI on Saturday. Though BitCoin is down, spirits are up, and Larry could settle in tomorrow; either for a long innings, or in the dressing room for a rain delay with the Financial Review.
At the Main for the last time in the regular season, the First XI will be keen to make every picket a winner and bounce back from a stinging result last week. No one more excited to get back Home than fast bowling duo Mark Stafford and Janak Prakash, air speed will be high, while bounce and carry will please the eye.
Regular golfing duo Noah Croes and Fergus McKenna will be keen to have a big say on this one, too. Having gone -7 in a nine-hole scramble earlier in the week, the top-order batters are dialled in; and as it relates to transferable skills, that bodes well for the Students.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Harrison Barnes
HB has continued a big week of milestones. First XI debut last week, he has also settled into a one-bedroom residence in Ivanhoe. Commute all but eliminated, Pencil is particularly proud of his recent acquisitions; a kettle, a pot and a mop. Maybe he could trade the mop in for a broom? Could come in handy as it relates to the Club Championship.
“You had me at coach.” – Roy Kent
Yes, the coach is IN, as Daniel Hutton returns to the second XI, alongside Jeremy Peacock. A pair of very handy inclusions, Hutty-Pants will slide back in to the top of the order, while JP will sure up the middle – that’s with both bat and ball – in his 50th.
Making a late charge for a spot in the top four, the Second XI will be keen to take the points at Bill Lawry Oval. A venue where the famed Victorian “always gets his ten,” the Students will need to be awake to any tricks that Bill wants to play. That said, the short straight boundaries are enticing, not only for the top order, but also for the quickies who will be running in off the fence.
As it relates to quickies, Tom Walker also returns to the Second XI. After getting “stuck,” in Queensland after a Friday night flight was delayed, TJ had the enviable task of staying an extra couple of days. Rejuvenated and ready to roll, Walker could run through the Dragons.
Moreover, Bett and UV Singh were consistently threatening last week. An invaluable combination as their spinners beat the bat on both sides, Bettsy’s presence at the Main last night lifted spirits – but his choice of beverage left the skipper miffed.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Michael Forwood
Perhaps the biggest cricket nuffy at MUCC at the moment, Michael Forwood laments the fact that Wisden quizzes don’t come with a cash prize. His noggin full of knowledge, his on-field talent is also plain to see. So, to paraphrase Dr Seuss: He’s got brains in his head, and runs in his shoes, bowl short and he’ll hit you in any direction he choose(s)!”
Just one point outside the top four at the moment, the Third XI face the tantalising prospect of securing their own Finals position while ending Northcote’s hopes on Saturday. The classic double whammy, the Students also enjoyed a double whammy at the selection table; with Nick Ritchie and Jamon Barron-Toop both back into the side.
Handy inclusions notwithstanding, MUCC Mag Editor, Dan McNab, decided he wanted to be front page news at training on Thursday night. Fashioning himself something of a two-day shirt “cut off,” McNab made it clear that he has spent large parts of the recent week throwing tin around. His left-arm orthodox spinners could be particularly potent on Saturday.
Moreover, Lucien Bienvenu dug deep into the etymology of “bi-weekly” on Thursday night. Though such a conversation might fall on deaf ears elsewhere, it sparked rigorous discussion amongst a squad of Students. Lucien’s all-round ability extending well beyond the cricket field.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Hugo Bienvenu
Living on campus at Trinity College, Hugo has recently obtained an armchair and a bookshelf. How that relates to on-field performance remains to be seen, but sources suggest he is also willing to make any passing MUCCer a pod coffee. A level of generosity that hints the good karma train is coming his way, Huggsy could plunder the Dragons to all parts on Saturday. *
* Hugo is also a proud member of the Hard Hands XI. He wears cap #2.
Youth is the name of the game in the Fourth XI on Saturday as they look to keep slim Finals hopes alive at (Night)Mayer Park. Lachie Pedley and Shenan Dias will share the captaincy duties for the first time – a task made that much easier by the valuable inclusions of Ali Khan and Hashim Ali.
Coming off a dominant century in the Fifth XI last Sunday, Toby Rawlings will play a vital role in the middle order. Also, if you plan on spending an off-season in the UK, Tobes has some tips on how to keep your bat from breaking.
Rithin Rakes who bowls leg-breaks has also been impressive of late and his spinner could have a big say on the outcome at the unpredictable recreation reserve of the inner-north.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Raf Epstein
Everyone’s favourite run machine, Raf Epstein showed off his multi-sport talent during the week. A tennis fanatic, he was able to lead the charge on Tuesday night and take down resident pro, Nick Ritchie. With hand-eye co-ordination to burn, Raf has also spent some time with club great, Elias Karageorgiou of late, so expect him to heed the Greek Freak’s advice and blast the bowlers to all parts.