T’is the season for a milestone. Club captain James McNeil brought up his hundredth match last weekend and is set to be joined by three more Students – Daniel Hutton, Andrej Yaksender and John McLaughlan – in landmark games this Saturday. So, strap yourselves in because we bloody love the lot of them.
McNeil, who joined the club in 15/16, has made an indelible impact as a Student. Becoming captain in just his second season, he has clearly been held in the highest esteem since his arrival. Taking the Students from the tail-end of the ladder, he led Uni to the Club Championship last year as well as a First XI Minor premiership. With two centuries and eighteen fifties under his belt, he continues to set the standard for the whole club on the field, and we have been blessed to play alongside him as a teammate and under him as a leader. Congratulations, James.
Elegant, stylish and enviably skilful. This has been Daniel Hutton for 249 matches of Premier Cricket, and he will play his 250th game on Saturday against Melbourne. An incredible achievement, Diesel has been the life of the club since arriving from Camberwell in 10/11. With 8 centuries, a great deal of First XI cricket, including a First XI batting award, Hutton has also become an exceptional leader. Bringing his wealth of experience and relaxed sense of fun to the Second XI, he has been a perfect fit as captain and continues to lead the side towards a top-four finish. We adore playing cricket with Diesel and congratulate him on his 250th match.
1 in every 9.9 matches. That’s how often Andrej Yaksender makes a hundred for MUCC. Having blasted ten centuries before his hundredth match, which he will play tomorrow, Andrej has established himself as a young star of the competition. Playing – and thriving – in every grade, Yak has given his opposition headaches since 2014/15. Replete with cheeky grin, blistering cover drive and self-branded puffer jacket for 99 matches, it has been a pleasure to watch him grow in the first portion of his career, and we can’t wait to see what comes next. Great work, Yak.
Rarely has a Premier cricketer had a better understanding of their craft than John McLaughlan, the off-spinner set to play his hundredth match as a Student tomorrow. His exceptional record of in excess of 150 wickets at 21 only tells half the story, however. Having fought injuries – particularly to his back and fingers – throughout his time at MUCC, John puts in tireless amounts of work just to get on the park. Wickets notwithstanding, it is as a coach and a mentor that John continues to evolve; sharing his vast cricketing knowledge with an emerging group of young spinners at the club, J-Mac is one of MUCC’s most valuable assets. Truly a joy to play with, he has recently made a good habit of bringing the Saturday paper to games and leaving with a bag of wickets. Long may it continue. Great work, Johnson.
To the weekend…
Unchanged after their classic with St. Kilda last weekend, the First XI will head lakeside to take on Melbourne at the Albert Ground. Stafford will feel right at home, in the shadow of the golf course and bike track, both of which he has really made his own. Needing to continue their winning ways, the batsmen will be licking their lips as the Albert’s traditionally flat wicket awaits. Could it be that Yak in his hundredth plunders his eleventh century? Ruling it out is a fool’s errand.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Steven Reid
He’s a father, he’s a homeowner, and now he’s a married man. Of course, all of these significant life achievements sit alongside the fact that Steven Reid is a very fast bowler. Coming off four wickets last weekend, look for Papa Dos to make the most of the pace and bounce on Queens Parade.
Swinging the ball one way might cut the mustard for some, but not for Om Patel. ‘The Wizard’ has been selected to make his Second XI debut after an irresistible season in the lower XI’s. Don’t be fooled by his endlessly affable nature, Om wants your wicket, more specifically, he wants your front pad – and more often than not he will get it. Just rewards for a mountain of effort, we wish Om all the best. Joining him, Isaiah Borgas returns to the Second XI as they look to secure a top-four position on the eve of the finals. How fitting it would be to celebrate Diesel’s 250th and Johnson’s 100th with a big win at the Main.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Angus Molden
Gus has settled in nicely to the Second XI. Having only played two matches, he has looked right at home, already pinning two batsmen in the noggin (the more things change… etc. etc.). Man bun in tow, it will be his first outing on the Uni Main this weekend, and he will surely make the most of it.
“Beaumaris Oval, I can assure you it’s a belter of a ground, but it’s further than you think.” Coach Keely summed it up nicely on Thursday night, as the Third XI enter a must win encounter with the Demons. Welcoming back Hugo Bienvenu and Yousaf Iqbal, the batting line-up is a mouth-watering one and Uni will be keen to post a big score in favourable batting conditions.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Lachie Pedley
From Canberra to Queen’s. Pedley is the life of the party. If anyone was in doubt, the forty college kids who demanded the young right-armer bowl at training last night as they marched past the Main on their way to a Thursday night twist quickly put any reservations to bed. Bowling a tight stump-to-stump line, ‘Peddles’ will give nothing away and could break this one apart.
Desperate to get back on the winners’ list after a difficult couple of weeks, the Fourth XI will be back at Home, the young side under the esteemed leadership of Ed Savill. Look for the batting order to kick into gear; headlined by Jimmy Anderson, who will be wearing a mismatch of kit after an unfortunate incident last weekend; not enough to wipe the smile from his face, a big score would be just rewards.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ed Savill
It is that skipper, that well-dressed Pixar hero, who you ought to keep an eye on this weekend. If for no other reason than if you don’t keep an eye on him, he can get up to mischief. With an unrivalled cricket brain, Ed could outthink and outplay the Demons to help Uni get on the board.
We are thrilled to announce that supporters are welcome, nay encouraged, to return to the Uni Main to watch the Students go to work. The bar will be open, and a little birdie even told me that there might be some snags on the BBQ from 4pm on Saturday 20th March (The First XI’s final game at Home in the regular season). So, come on down and enjoy watching cricket at the best ground in the world. We would love to have you there.
P.S. buy a beer – they’re really cheap and can be tasty!
P.P.S. buy a pie – they’re really cheap and ALWAYS tasty!