Some games or seasons are memorable for what happens in them, in the case of season 20/21, it has been memorable for happening at all. Zoom calls, divided training groups and sanitiser breaks a distant memory, the Finals series kicks off tomorrow in what will be perfect conditions for cricket. As ever, Uni will feature prominently at the pointy end; the First and Second XI’s still chasing Premiership glory.
Back-to-back finals appearances for the first time in more than a decade, the First XI will enter their contest against Prahran on the back of some mightily impressive late season momentum. Not having dropped a point since the start of February, Uni have clicked at just the right time; their batting line-up humming nicely and captain James McNeil with the most potent bowling attack in Victoria at his disposal.
Speaking of momentum, Liam Scammell comes into the weekend as a newly married man. He and Michelle tied the knot yesterday, and as with any good honeymoon, Liam will spend it in a cricket change room. In fairness, he enjoys a special romance with Toorak Park, having steered the Students home in a classic there just a couple of years ago. Love will certainly be in the air…
The Students, too, will be keen to make amends for the regular season match against the True Blues. On the receiving end of a dominant display of power hitting from Lachie Bangs, Uni’s full-strength attack will look to nullify Prahran’s threatening top order.
PLAYER TO WATCH: James Bett
A big-time player, you’d be brave to suggest James Bett won’t have an influence on this one. Uni’s go to spinner, Bettsy is ever-reliable and with over rates re-set for finals, his calm and measured approach at the bowling crease will give him every chance to flourish. With an unrivalled level of control and understanding that makes him an invaluable asset, Prahran will need to be on their game to stop him. To that end, if given the chance to wield the willow, Spork can turn a promising total into a big one.
Go well, boys. Should you need some last-minute motivation, know that Reggie (Jaz and Phoebs’ new Boxer puppy) will be in attendance, as will plenty of family and friends. So, as Emmsy would say, get the bikkies and enjoy playing at the best time of the year.
In 2011, eventual AFL premiers, Geelong were written off as “too old and too slow.” Three rounds into season 20/21 the Second XI were 0/3 and the critics were crying “too young, too raw.” Having dropped only one game since that point, the Students have settled into a nice rhythm and will look to continue their ever-impressive record in finals cricket.
Returning to Shepley Oval, the scene of that one mid-season loss, Uni will enter the contest with a completely different looking side from the Round 10 clash. It has been that aforementioned youth that has held the Second XI in good stead of late; Lucien Bienvenu and Angus Molden terrorising top-orders with the new ball, while the likes of Warren and Peacock have blossomed at a Premier level throughout the year.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Isaiah Borgas
Headlining the top order, there will be few teams in the Second XI finals series blessed enough to have someone like Borgas lining up on the weekend. With the biggest stride into a front foot cover drive you are likely to see, Borg’s batting is characterised by a delightful confidence and conviction.
Good luck, team. With a number of the side playing Second XI finals for the first time, enjoy and cherish the opportunity and come back up the Monash freeway with a few more weeks of cricket to play!