In unprecedented circumstances, Victorian Premier Cricket has made the decision to abandon the remainder of the finals series across all four grades; meaning the season is now over. Despite this, the Club was able to compete last weekend in the first round of the finals, and had mixed results across the top three XI’s.
Facing Northcote at home in their first final since 2014/15, the First XI would bowl first at the Uni Main, in ominous conditions. Uni’s bowlers, who have been superb all year, shone once again, led by Steve Reid. Dos, who was in the Premier Cricket Team of the Year last season, has put his hand up yet again, with a stellar 39-wicket season. On Saturday, the big quick broke through for the first wicket of the morning, to have the Dragons 1/27. Alex Gregory and Peter Hatzoglou were both impressive throughout the first session, each rewarded with a wicket; Thumper’s on the last ball before lunch, to give the Students the momentum.
After the break, it was, to quote Thumper, “all gas no breaks, baby!” While Northcote came out swinging, it was Uni who capitalised for the most part on their aggression, as there were chances aplenty. When Hatzoglou lured Matt Short into a false sense of security only to bowl him in the subsequent over, his stiff-legged full body celebration suggested Uni would be hard to stop. Liam Scammell (2/15) helped break the game open in the second session, before Reidy came back and cleaned up the tail to finish with 4/61. Despite some heavy hitting just before tea, Northcote ran out of batsmen and found themselves all out for 187 with 31 overs left in the day; a chance for Uni to go a long way towards knocking off the total before the close of play.
Unfortunately, early wickets saw the momentum shift in Northcote’s favour, and they were not going to give it back. From 2/3, the Clubs pre-eminent batsmen for the season, Yaksender and Gregory tried to steady the ship, but both were dismissed for 17 and 13 respectively just after drinks in the evening session. As batsmen continued to fall at one end, wicket-keeper Jarrod Martignago batted beautifully. Owner of both the best tomatoes at the Club and a water tank (a small one), Jarrod counter-punched superbly as the sun set over the Uni Main. Cutting balls from anywhere, Jaz tried to haul Uni into a winning position, but couldn’t find anyone to go with him, as the Students finished day one 7 wickets down, and still 100 runs behind.
The following morning, Jarrod continued where he left off the night before, scoring quickly, but unfortunately ran out of partners. Finishing 49* when the final wicket fell, Jarrod scored his 4000th Premier cricket run in the process, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be, as Uni were bowled out for 113.
The season now over, the First XI will not have the chance for redemption this week, despite being holders of the prized double chance. An unfortunate end to an exceptional season, the First XI can still be very proud of season 2019/20.
Keen to defend their Premiership title, the Second XI travelled to Walter Galt Reserve to commence their finals campaign against Footscray.
Batting first in what were unusually friendly bowling conditions (the local Parkdale Football Club must have monopoly of the Galt) Uni got off to a shaky start with the willow. After the departures of Bett (7) and Hatzoglou (0), the Students looked to Harrison Emms for some surety. With Royal Commission concerns placed firmly on the backburner in the current climate, the ANZ executive has been playing with a clear, unencumbered mind; and he has been reaping the rewards. Digging in for Uni, Emms batted for three and a half hours on Saturday, managing 57 and setting the platform for the rest of the side.
While the Students were able to get a number of “starts” through the middle of the innings; Croes (34), Hutton (16), Iqbal (42), they still found themselves in trouble at 7/205, needing a the tail to wag to help push the score up to something more defendable. Thankfully, it did. Captain Mark Simpson dug in for the side from the number eight batting spot with an invaluable 56. Combining with finals hero, Abdul Haseeb, who made his first half-century of the season (53*) to push Uni above 300. Finally declaring at 9/310, Uni not only had lots of runs on the board, but had managed to take time out of the second day, only magnifying the challenge for the Dogs.
Bowling on a wicket that had now flattened out considerably, Uni’s bowling innings would prove to be an exercise in both discipline and patience, as they sought to build run-rate based pressure, looking to force errors from Footscray. Though wickets weren’t always east to come by, Haseeb carried on from his invaluable batting innings; taking the first two wickets. When Rolfs grabbed his first, the Dogs were 3/69, and Uni well on top. Some steady partnership batting saw Footscray make their way to 160, before Hutton and Haseeb (3/64) both struck again, to break the resistance. After the tea break, it was time for John McLaughlan to finish off the job, claiming 3/23 to secure victory for the Students.
A positive way to finish the season, the Second XI can be very proud of another successful season.
A difficult weekend for the Third XI, the semi-final saw them also play Footscray in a do-or-die match up at Princes Park.
Bowling first on a flat wicket, the Students were unable to make early in-roads. In beautiful batting conditions, the Footscray openers piled on the pain for Uni, making their way to 159, before Jacob Stevenson finally reaped reward for his monumental efforts. The Fridge bowled 27 overs across a tiresome first day, a display of both fitness and character from everyone’s favourite cold box. Stevo managed a second wicket as the day drew to a close, but Uni had been unable to make a dent in the Footscray scorecard, as the Dogs posted a mammoth 4/310 declared from their 80 overs; meaning Uni would need to chase it down, or bat out the day on Sunday to progress to the preliminary finals.
Unfortunately, things did not start well for Uni. Though Roughsedge and Domann both managed 15, they were the only two in the top four to pass double figures, and Uni were reeling at 5/47. Young gun, Nick Ritchie provided the only real bright light for the Students, batting at 5. Balancing controlled aggression with measured defence, the elegant right hander compiled a valuable 63, including 7 boundaries. Unfortunately, no one went with him, and Uni were eventually bowled out for just 112.
A disappointing day, the Third XI can once again be proud of an exceptional year; having made 5 consecutive finals series and won 3 premierships in that time, it is fair to say they have been, and remain, a force to be reckoned with.