Double or Nothing: Uni Tames Top Two Tigers

With plenty on the line over the weekend, two of University’s Premier XI’s came up trumps – the quality of cricket almost as high as Ben Rolfs’ new drone – which he flew with glee over Central Reserve. 

FIRST XI

While the first ball wasn’t to be bowled until 11 O’clock, Mark Stafford was keen to get straight into his work on Saturday morning; giving it to Beefy for his Pies’ lacklustre Round 1 showing. 

Football notwithstanding, there was cricket to be played, and the Students would bat first. Ormond’s bells tolled, almost in applause for Harrison Emms’ first well-struck cover drive on the hour, as he and McKenna (15) put on 30 for the first wicket. Richmond worked their way into the contest with three relatively quick wickets, but Emms and Yaksender had other ideas. The young financiers steadying the ship, before the blonder of the pair edged one behind for 32. Yaksender, whose lack of boundaries irked him on Saturday, refuses to be tied down, making yet another valuable 43 to anchor Uni’s innings. As ever, Croes (27), Scammell (28) and Mackin (18) provided crucial runs, Mackin’s characteristic flat-bat straight pull a particular fan favourite, as Uni pushed up towards 200. A James Bett power-stance boundary off the last ball saw Uni’s innings close at 8/184.

Bowling to keep their season alive, what a pleasure it must be to throw the ball to Mark Stafford and Simon Mackin. The pair, who thrive in Parkville, got the ball to swing and seam respectively; nothing easy for the Tigers in the first ten. It was Stafford who got the rewards, removing Edwards caught behind, before claiming Fraser-McGurk in the final over of his first spell. A game-breaking wicket, it was also Stafford’s 200th First XI scalp. One of the club’s most loved, Stafford is the heart and soul of everything MUCC – and we are all so happy for, and proud of him. Congratulations, Squid! From the other end, it was Doug Warren who claimed his maiden First XI wicket; the juxtaposition irresistible, as was Warren’s celebration… From then on, it was a procession from the Students, as Doug in particular bowled the spell of a lifetime. Ten overs, four maidens, 3/18 and Warren was showing everyone that he can do it at the highest level when the heat is on. When the Tigers took off for a risky single to McNeil, the non-striker just kept running all the way to the pavvy – and when Andrej also hit the stumps directly, the result was signed, sealed and delivered. Eventually bowling the Tigers out for 132, the Students claimed an invaluable bonus point in the process.

Back in the top eight for the first time since January, the Students might just be peaking at the right time…

SECOND XI

Flying drones for a warm-up, the Second XI were above the Tigers from the first and a win would put them above them on the ladder by day’s end. 

Batting first, it was Richmond who made the fast start, the loss of Borgas and Bienvenu leaving the Students reeling at 2/13. Domann, whose penchant for extreme weather saw him fly to Sydney after the game, made a stylish 24. In getting a start he was not alone, as Hutton (26), Peacock (25) and Horn (19) all got going, but at 6/102, Uni needed someone to answer the call, should they have a score to defend. Ben Rolfs, back in the side for the first time since a training mishap was that man. In control of his new gadget, he was just as sure at the crease, his 42 from 52 balls just what Uni needed to push the total up towards 200. As ever, Lucien Bienvenu (16) provided some late runs and Om Patel (20) on debut, showed that he really is an all-round delight. Bowled out for 188, the Students had runs on the board, the importance of which cannot be overstated at Central Reserve. 

Equipped with a good cast, and blessed with the fast bowling skills to match, MUCC’s resident director, Angus Molden had the perfect script to dismantle the Tigers. Happily, for both big Gus and the Students, there was to be no plot twist in this one… A fine display of fast bowling, Molden gave teammates and the broader club an insight into what he is set to offer for a number of years to come. With raw pace, the ability to move the ball and a devilish leg-cutter, he was simply too good for the Tigers. An incredible day, he finished with the figures of 6/18 from his eight overs; best figures at the level, Molden has shone since making his Second XI debut against Frankston. No questions regarding Player of the Week this time around – congratulations, Gus!

Backed up by Lucien Bienvenu (2/22) and Ben Rolfs who also claimed a wicket in his return, the Second XI were dominant with the ball, dismissing Richmond for just 99 as they stormed into third place with a bonus point victory. 

THIRD XI

Needing victories, bonus points and a healthy dose of good fortune to make the finals, the Third XI were keen to put their best foot forward against Richmond at Princes Park on the weekend. 

Speaking of feet, it was the man who has done everything right to get back on his, Nick Ritchie, who effected the first run-out of the day to get Uni off and racing and when Lachie Pedley broke through immediately thereafter, Richmond were 2/20. A consistent flow of wickets prevented Richmond from building partnerships of substance, thanks in large part to the return of Lachie Melican to the bowling crease. One of MUCC’s most exciting young talents, Melican has consistently battled injury, but Saturday’s effort of 4/11 highlighted what value he adds to any team in which he plays. Eventually bowling the Tigers out for just 142, it was Uni with the upper hand half way through this one.

In his Third XI debut, Ali Khan looked at ease for his stay at the crease, but when he and Durrant (20) were dismissed, Uni were in a spot of bother. Just like their Tiger opponents, the Students were crying out for someone to get in and anchor the innings, but the consistent flurry of wickets hamstrung Uni’s chase. Epstein (22) and Melican (21) tried hard, but with too much left to do at the tail end of the innings, the Students ultimately fell 3 runs short. A heartbreaking loss, it all but rules a line through the Third XI playing deep into Autumn.

FOURTH XI

A Fourth XI classic in Springvale, as the Students, inspired by an Alex Gall special gave the Tigers a real nudge in Round 16. 

Bowling first, it was an exercise in patience for the Fourth XI as the Tigers’ opening pair put together a fine 182 run partnership. That said, Uni’s youthful bowling attack remained upbeat and didn’t let the opposition get completely away from them. It took until Rithin Rakes (bowling leg breaks) combined with wicket-keeper Hayden Lim to have the opener stumped that the Students had the breakthrough they so desperately craved. From then on, wickets tumbled regualraly until the close of the innings – Khush Talati earning himself the figures of 2/16. The innings closing at 5/215, it would take an impressive batting performance from the Students to get the chocolates in this one. 

Akon Mawien made an impressive start to the run chase; having worked tirelessly on his batting since his arrival at the club, he continues to make big strides with bat in hand – his 37 giving Uni a good platform. From then on, there was only one man who got a starts; Alex Gall. Ask James Bett which state Gally is from and you’re sure to get an interesting answer, but in fairness, the tall batsman was sending balls right around the east coast on Saturday – so take your pick. Blasting 84 from just 72 balls, he gave Uni a chance, but when he fell with the score at 200, the Students found themselves 15 runs shy; bowled out with three overs left, it was a case of what might have been for the Students. 

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