Though in winter banners fly high from dawn to dark, this Saturday the Students will be out to dampen spirits from Parkville right down the Princes Freeway, as they take on Geelong in Round 11.
The Bash has been and gone, meaning Uni regain the services of Fawad Ahmed for their all-important clash against Geelong. Fawad – who famously commissioned Rolfsy to help with a “sponsored post” at the start of the season – will feel right at home alongside Andrej Yaksender this weekend; Yak also taking to Instagram to thank M9 for a new bat during the week.
It will be a fit and energetic XI on Saturday, too; Noah Croes and Simon Mackin have been putting in the hard yards at the local sports and aquatic centre of late, each feeling fast in the water. Such is their competitive spirit, that locals have reported the emergence of a “Titmus and Ledecky” like rivalry – one that will surely drive them to greatness on the field.
Mark Stafford, too, will be keen to get amongst the action. Having missed recently through illness and a washout, he can’t wait to get the white ball back in hand and he is even due for a poetry reading. Beware, however; ostensibly friendly, Squid will have Beef in the gun this week, after the Chief Hydration Officer took a week off to travel to Queensland.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Alex Gregory
Alex the cricketer has embraced his “alter-grEGO” this week and played a good chunk of golf. Keenly aware that all good business deals are sealed on course, Gregs has taken the cash off both Fergus McKenna and Noah Croes. His enviable all-round skill set sure to be on show on the cricket field too, look out for Grego on the weekend.
In the shadow of GMHBA Stadium, the Second XI may well have to endure some minor earth tremors throughout their contest on Saturday; it’s coming up to 2km TT season and big Tom Hawkins is going around again.
It is third V fourth on the ladder this weekend, as the Students look to bounce back from a disappointing loss last weekend. Regaining Doug Warren and Isaiah Borgas (who will take the captain’s armband), it is a classy side that will travel down the highway. A word on that Borgas, too – absent last week, he made his way through four filtered coffees before the innings break as he was glued to the livestream. Impressive numbers, he will still be buzzing come Saturday morning.
A bowling attack flush with spinning options, it will be Tom Walker and Angus Molden who have first use of the cool mint on the weekend; a fearsome prospect for Geelong as each have a tendency to find flesh – soon followed by outside edge. Ouch!
Kardinia Park just a hop, skip and a jump away from GGS, James Bett will arguably get the most shut-eye of the playing XI on Friday night. A well-rested TOG is a dangerous TOG, so look for Bettsy to have a big say on this contest.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Daniel Hutton
The coach has gone viral on Tik Tok on Friday afternoon, and he could well follow that up with an infectious performance on Saturday. Batting paradise down the highway, D-Bot will look to lock in at the top of the order and make the cats pay. Much like his Demons have done of late.
Much like a box of favourites, the Third XI team is a Bounty of talent. Truly a Dream lime-up, they are in Cherry Ripe form and if they all play close to their best, it ought to be a Picnic at Princes Park. Hugo Bienvenu and Jamin Barron-Toop are in the side to give them a Boost, while Sam Skinner is always good in Crunch(ie) time, just in case things get close.
Just outside the top four at the moment, Saturday’s contest provides a good chance for the Students to kick-start the back-end of their season. To that end, Jimmy Anderson was in fine direct-hitting stump form on Thursday night, so he could well inspire something in the field on the weekend.
PLAYER TO WATCH: James Browning
When he’s not selling shoes at the Athlete’s Foot on Elizabeth St, JB is blowing your shoe off with a pinpoint yorker. The left-armer in full flow is a sight to behold and as his Masters’ deadline draws closer, he could be looking to blow off some steam in the middle. Chagrin for the Geelong top order.
Keen to start climbing the ladder, the Fourth XI will look to do so under the Wizard – Om Patel set to captain the side. Boasting the unique record of having played in all five XI’s in just one season, Om is proving why he is called the Wizard.
Pedley and Keeble return to the side this weekend as well, and after tensions ran high with some mid-week down ball, Khush “Tomata” will surely be fired up and ready to go down at Kardinia Park.
Yas will also be looking to make the most of davourable batting conditions down at Geelong, the opener making a good habit of batting for long periods already in 21/22.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Raf Epstein
The Australian Open might be complete, but Raf has a match-worn cap from Rafael Nadal.* Imbued with the Spaniard’s spirit, Raf will fight from anywhere and his capcity for big scores knows no bounds. Look for him to go big on Saturday.
* Not actually match-worn