It’s academic: Another bonus point for the Students

It was a special day on the weekend for two of MUCC’s teams. The First XI secured another dominant victory (bonus point, unlike batteries, included) while the Fifth XI enjoyed a Big Mac Double and a look to the future, as one of MUCC’s most doting supporters donned the whites for his first game as a Student. 

FIRST XI

Most good teams boast a strong connection between captain and wicket-keeper. Working together to set fields and hatch plans, a level of synergy is important. So, it came as a surprise to no one that James McNeil and Noah Croes shared an evening nine at Greenacres on Friday night. The ideal preparation, Croes went around in 1 under par, and the skipper honed his Tiger Vision with the flat stick… If the cricket the next day was anything to go by, maybe they should think about making this a routine.

Bowling first at the Uni Main once again, it was the Bombers who made the early running. After racing to 0/30 and having lost just three wickets for the season to that point, Uni had to find something – and fast. Happily, one Essendon opener went looking for a fight, hoping for a bite from Steve Reid. All he found, however, was a nibble – and it happened to be off the wicket, as Papa Dos nicked off Aaron Ayre at the other end. Two balls later, Reidy bowled Michael Hill, and the Students were away. Once again owning the role as first change bowler, McKenna (who now wants to be known as the Giant Slayer) added James Seymour to his already esteemed list of victims. A stunning caught and bowled, Ferg’s quick reactions had the Bombers 3/64, and from that point on, it was all one-way traffic.

In one of the most dominant displays of spin bowling you are likely to see, James Bett and Ben Rolfs used their fingers and wrist respectively to tear through the fuselage of the Bombers. It was special to watch the pair, who have worked on their craft together for a long period of time, go to work on the Uni Main to put the First XI in a winning position. Both bowling with exceptional pace, shape and subtle variation, they kept asking good questions, and ones that the Bombers simply couldn’t answer. Rolfs, who will be working overtime to ensure the highlights are available on MUCC TV ASAP, earned his best figures at First XI level (4/16) and the Spork was traditionally economical in his strangling spell of 3/11. If there wasn’t already enough symmetry from the spin twins, they both reached 150 MUCC wickets on Saturday; a tremendous effort. The pair gave Essendon no chance to build a platform, and when Bettsy dropped one off the table with enough turn and bounce to find the off bail, the Bombers were all out for 97.

For the second week in a row, Uni’s candy-coated chocolate openers (M&M {Martignago and McKenna} [come with me, please]) were faced with the challenge of knocking the wind out of the opposition in a small run chase. Evidently, practice makes perfect, as the pair got off to a fast start, enjoying the favourable afternoon batting conditions. Knocking off most of the total in a little over ninety minutes, it was McKenna who found the fence on five occasions, who really settled into a groove, while Martignago (36), once again looked in control at the top of the order. Despite the late loss of a couple of wickets, Uni were never troubled, as they secured the victory after just 22 overs. McKenna (47*) and Yaksender (9*), saw the Students home, and also both managed a personal milestone – McKenna passing 1000 First XI runs, and Dr Drej his 3000th (!) MUCC run.

SECOND XI

On the hunt for their first win of the season, the Second arrived at Windy Hill and batted first on an ostensibly flat wicket. 

The Students were quick to realise that the wicket had a bit more bite to it than it may have appeared, as the new white ball nipped around – especially off a good length. Giving the ball a chance to move and tempting the Uni top order to drive, Essendon’s openers were in fine form and ripped through the top order. Emms (15) was the only one of the top six to reach double figures, and a 5/25, the Students were always pushing uphill. Some lower order resistance from Bienvenu (16) gave Uni some hope, but at 9/66, it was looking particularly bleak. James Browning and Akon Mawien clearly had no plans of bowling any time soon, however, as they rallied to give Uni a chance. Both have worked hard on their batting with Jerry in recent times, and on Saturday, they started to reap the rewards. Mawien (32) helped push Uni up beyond 100, while JB, wielding his “MAD Cricket” bat, added 19 and took the innings deep as Uni were eventually bowled out for 128 from 46 overs.

In desperate need of early wickets, the Bombers were able to deny Uni, as batting conditions continued to improve. Though not out of the hunt, especially with spin ace (and Spanish import) ‘Cinco de Dwayne’ John McLaughlan back in the XI. Indeed, it was John who looked the most likely, claiming 2/31. Unfortunately, too much was left to the bowlers, as Warren and Bienvenu both managed a single wicket apiece, as Essendon wrapped up the chase in 32 overs. 

A particularly disappointing day, the Students will be hoping for a better performance when they return to the Main this week.

THIRD XI

Make no mistake, the Third XI on the weekend was a well led team, as Savill and Skinner came together for the first time in 20/21.

Bowling first at Princes Park, Angus ‘Angry’ Molden, cool mint in hand, had a point to prove. The young quickie claimed the first three wickets and threatened rip through the Bombers. Essendon were able to steady, but thanks to some tight bowling and impressive work in the field (see McNab run out), were never really able to get away from the Students. All bowlers contributed and, as expected, Jeremy Peacock had his best performance as a MUCCer, claiming 3/31, to help restrict Essendon to 173 from their 45 overs.

Though the outfield was slow, the wicket was true, and with a strong batting line-up, Uni could be confident in the run chase. Once again, Alex Gall (21) was elegant and composed at the top of the list, but lacked company, as the rest of the top six all struggled. Entering the contest at 4/25, Jeremy Peacock (yes, he is also on the M9 kit train) needed to produce a special innings to get Uni into a winning position. Fresh from a Red Bull, Peackock found the middle of his bat from the first, balancing patience and power, hitting the ball straight down the ground on his way to a MUCC best of 48. Joined by Lachie Pedley (13) and Dan McNab (18) Uni tried to rally in the lower order, but unfortunately the task proved too much, as they were bowled out for 135.

Keen to find some momentum heading into Christmas, it will be an important match down the highway next week.

FOURTH XI

Playing at a recently refurbished Cross Keys Reserve, the Fourth XI were looking to build on their winning form under the tutelage of club coach, Antony Keely. 

Bowling first, it was a pair of young punks who opened the bowling. Everyone’s favourite rubber wrist, Om Patel, and the man who has taken the warm up game by storm at training of late, Khush Talati were both steady, but it took Jimmy Anderson to break the deadlock with the first wicket. Essendon continued to score relatively freely, but Anderson struck once more, and Ninad Panjwani was traditionally steady in his spell, claiming 2/33. Wickets in hand at the end meant Essendon could push the score up towards 200, the innings eventually closing at 6/194.

Not prepared to be outshone by the return of his brother, Ed Savill made his own news at the top of the order. Blasting 31 in combination Shenan Dias (21) Uni made a strong start in the run chase. Melican (21) and Raf Epstein (22) also looked promising in the middle order, but the Students found themselves a touch hamstrung by the consistency of wickets. Had one of the top six been able to nail down a big score, the chase would have become ‘academic’ but they gave the lower order slightly too much to do. Batting well down the list, Allianz Keely managed 27, but running out of partners, the Students were all out for 166, stil with four overs to spare.

Close, but still with work to do, the Fourth XI will be hopeful of another win back at Princes Park this week.

FIFTH XI

“It was the best day of my career.” 

That’s how high-performance coach, Anthony McQuire surmised his day on Saturday, representing the Fifth XI alongside 9-year old son, Charlie. Surely the youngest player ever to represent the club, Charlie is comfortably MUCC’s #1 ticket holder, and will no doubt represent the Students for a very long time.

Bowled out for 116 (McQuire Snr 32), Uni simply didn’t have enough on the board against Old Trinity. The Architect will be keen for his troops to find some winning form heading into Christmas, and should the McQuires roll out again, it’s only a matter of time…

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