As the Students keep a keen eye on the BOM for yet another Friday, there is one man who might use today’s wet weather as an excuse to stay inside and practice his wicket celebrations. Happily, Doug Warren will also be making his First XI debut on the weekend, so it would serve him well to nail down any new moves. After a fantastic start to the year, in which he has taken 15 wickets – including 14 for the Second XI since making his debut at that level in Round 2 – the fast finger spinner has impressed everyone. With a good habit of taking three wickets an innings, he will be hoping for more of the same on the Main against the Panthers, and we wish him all the best as he dons cap #972.
Perhaps the injection of Doug’s eccentric energy – the likes of which haven’t been seen since Peter went and got himself on the TV – will be just what the Students need as they look to get back on the winners’ list. Albury’s favourite sons, Hume and Hovell are both back in the side returning from injury play and with Ben Rolfs set to miss due to a dislocated spinning finger, McNeil might not have to fight for a spot in the change rooms.
PLAYER TO WATCH: John McLaughlan
(Sung to the tune of Levitating by Dua Lipa with DaBaby)
“Left pad, right pad in front of middle
J-Mac, it’s off-spinners with the arm ball”
While John’s penchant for Dua Lipa with DaBaby knows no bounds, neither does his desire for wickets. Bowling with a skill and cricketing nous that few can rival, his dipping off-breaks will surely pose a threat to some unwitting Panthers. Moreover, this week John will be the Qui-Gon Jinn to Doug’s Obi-Wan.
“I taught him everything he knows” John whispered last night at the cap presentation. The pair have worked tirelessly together this year and it is fitting that Dwayne will be there as Doug makes his debut.
In a strong weekend for the Trinity Grammar graduates, Dan McNab is also set to make his Second XI debut. Though named against Fitzroy, rain and an umpire keen for a public holiday cruelled his chances, but hopefully tomorrow he can turn it on at Shepley. Good luck McSlab.
More broadly, the Second XI have kicked right into gear of late, accumulating wins and bonus points. The top order having found their rhythm with the bat, the side is nicely balanced as the youthful bowling line-up has been sharing the wickets relatively evenly. Currently sitting fifth, their match with Dandenong on Saturday will determine the make-up of the top four, as the winner will earn their place in that top portion of the ladder.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Isaiah Borgas
N’er was a Panther confident when lining up against dual talented Michael Hutchence. Known for his exploits on stage as the headline singer for InXS, he has taken to opening the batting for the Melbourne University Second XI. Loving his time batting with Harrison Emms, the pair have formed such a close bond, that Borg has been known to look opening bowlers in the eye and assure them that “you can never tear us apart.” In all seriousness, Borg has been in fine touch since returning for the New Year and he loves to get in and go big.
In yet another feel-good story for the week, Rithin Rakes will make his Third XI debut on Saturday. The young leg-spinner (boasting headband and wrong’un) has impressed since arriving at the club this year through the Dowling Shield competition.
After a significant rainfall last week was too much for PP3 to handle, hopefully it is a different story this time around as the Third XI look to get back into the top eight with a strong performance against Dandenong who sit just below them on the ladder.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Jayden Kennedy
JK is a man after my own heart. Thick and powerful, he is also remarkably friendly for someone who hits the cricket ball so hard. There were also whispers of a new Kookaburra blade floating around on Thursday night. While this reporter didn’t see it, Rumour File Rolfs suggested it was a genuine cannon so should JK get a couple out of the middle with this, well, good luck Panthers.
After a couple of disappointing results on the bounce, the Fourth XI will be looking to some of their experienced players to show the way this week. The inclusion of Ed Savill might be just what they need, as the Englishman will slot in at the top of the order. In more good news, the Wilson Oval is in close proximity to a drain, and it’s always fun to deposit bowlers into a drain – so get after it boys. The spin twins of Panjwani and Bennett were in good form last week and will be sure to challenge some front pads yet again this Saturday.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ali Khan
Young Ali Khan has made a real statement since arriving at Uni through the Under 16 program. As much as Diesel and Bettsy might try to claim him through their selection process, Ali has commanded respect, making big runs in the junior format and starting to find his feet at Premier level. In a top order that has been bereft of runs of late, look to the youngster to set the standard this week.