St Michael: Forwood and other Saintly Performances

MATCH REPORTS ROUND 12

 

Once again the Students claimed all available points in the Third and Fourth XI’s, as some undergraduates (that’s young MUCCers for those playing at home), put in stunning individual performances against St. Kilda on the weekend.

 

FIRST XI

As the ticket machine outside the Junction refused to co-operate, many a MUCCer was left scrambling; taking photos to prove that they had tried to pay for parking. All in vain, an overly eager inspector was poised to strike – fines dished out all around.

 

Cars towed and coin tossed, Uni would bat first on a wicket that offered enough for the bowlers when they found a length. Fortunately for Uni, they didn’t in the first couple of overs and Croes (16) got the Students off to a fast start. Two quick wickets called for the steadying presence of Yak (who has recently received a well-earned call up to the Victorian Second XI), and McKenna – who added 42 for the third wicket. Unfortunately, wickets continued to fall at a consistent rate thereafter – hamstringing Uni from building any momentum. Hutton (20) and Quarterback Simon Mackin (13) tried to push the score towards 200, Uni eventually bowled out for 174.

 

In need of an almighty bowling performance, two MUCC molluscs – Squid and Slug – answered the call with the new ball. Squid beat the edge more times than he’s finished Wordle and Doug broke through for the first wicket at the other end. Gregory and Prakash both showed their skill shortly thereafter to break the game right open, before Mackin found the edge and made a pained appeal to have the Saints in trouble at 4/58. Right in the contest, St. Kilda formed a steadying partnership, but struggled to score quickly thanks to some delightful bowling from Warren and Mackin through the middle. By the second drinks break, Uni needed a wicket – and it was one Squid was only too happy to provide; he claimed two and Gregs another to give the Students a real sniff. Unfortunately, St. Kilda were able to steady once again, chasing down the total with three overs remaining.

 

SECOND XI

Traffic concerns plagued Parkville as well with the closure of Tin Alley for roadworks. However, much like The Room of Requirement opens for those in need, Tin Alley is always open for a MUCCer – so the Students had no problems arriving on time.

 

On time and on target with the ball too, Tom Walker and Jeremy Peacock broke through almost immediately, to have St. Kilda 2/28. Followed by a partnership of more than 70, Ben Rolfs – whose recent work behind the lens combines nicely with his work with bat and ball – nabbed two in quick succession to turn the tables back in favour of the Students. Again, the Saints dug in for a significant partnership – their momentum only halted by a late wicket to Tom Walker and a run out to James Bett (“it was 2/84…). Uni would need to chase 230 for victory.

 

Getting off to the best of starts, Pencil and Hahnel looked at ease at the top of the order against the swinging cool mint. Barnes (26 all run in heavy conditions) was promising and Uni had managed 63 for the first wicket. Meanwhile, Hahnel looked at ease at the other end as he compiled his second half-century as a Student. Bowl wide at your peril, because Josh – as Kerry O’Keefe would say – will “slap it with an open face,” to the fence. He did this on 7 occassions in his innings of 51. Following his dismissal, Students kept getting out at one end, while James Horn played a dazzling innings at the other. Scoring at a run a ball, Horny dragged Uni right into the contest as he cracked 55, in a composed innings when the heat was on. With the ability to score right around the ground, Jim is certainly the man for a run chase. James Bett (41) and Ben Rolfs (20) did all they could, but ultimately the score was just out of reach, Uni falling short at 6/225.

 

THIRD XI

Utterly dominant from the first ball (which Lachie Melican effortlessly deposited for four), Uni made a real statement of intent – their push towards the Finals in full swing.

 

Playing at Harry Trott – that’s just what St. Kilda’s fielders did all morning in Albert Park – trotting after the leather that Uni’s batters deposited to all parts. Melican (33 from 22) set the tone at the top of the order, before Lucien Bienvenu and Michael Forwood came together for a mammoth 145-run stand. Bienvenu – who is unrivalled at depositing balls in his lengthy swinging arc – did just that as he cracked 11 fours and 2 sixes. Cruelly run out off the bowler’s hand, Luc had made an invaluable 92 from just 90 balls; his class evident for all to see. At the other end, Michael Forwood – who is putting together one of the great Third XI seasons, went masterfully about his work. Making scoring appear effortless, Bricks batted for more than two and a half hours as he blasted an indomitable maiden MUCC century. His unbeaten innings of 122 from just 109 balls earning him the mantle of Resilience Project Player of the Week. Well done Mickey! KD was happy to come in and continue the overwhelming momentum, making 41 from just 26, (“G’day mate, struck at 160 today”) and Ali Khan 25* pushed Uni well beyond 300. The Students’ innings closing at 3/327 – an unbelievable effort from just 45 overs.

 

Although they had a mammoth total on the board, it was St. Kilda that looked the goods early in the run chase. Racing out of the blocks, they put on 90 for the first wicket, before Dan McNab came on and claimed the first of his four wickets. Donning an outstanding pair of Homer Simpson socks, McNab could rightly have paraded around the ground declaring “I am so smart – S-M-R-T – I mean S-M-A-R-T!” as he made the Saints look silly through the middle. Bowling with great control, Slab claimed 4/58 along with spin twin John McLaughlan (2/46) to ensure Uni’s position of strength. Barron-Toop returned for two late wickets, along with Durrant and a run-out from Forwood to complete a perfect day; St. Kilda bowled out for 210.

 

Look out for the Third XI…

 

FOURTH XI

Fourth XI captain Ed Savill had a leave pass for Saturday night, so he was keen to make a real day of it – leading a young side to victory before sharing Saqlain Mushtaq stories all night long.

 

Batting first at PP3, Uni were briefly in trouble at 1/11, but the momentum quickly shifted, as Raf Epstein and Lachie Pedley put on a monster 113-run partnership. Pedley looked a close above as he found gaps with ease, working his way to 56 to help get the innings going. At the other end, everyone’s favourite run-machine, Raf Epstein, was hitting the ball to weird and wonderful places as he played a match-defining knock. Reaching 98 – and having to run most of them in slow conditions across the road – Raf was left stranded two short of a century when the innings closed. An outstanding effort nonetheless, he had ensured Uni would have plenty of runs to defend; the Students recording 5/204.

 

Never really in doubt with the ball, Khush Talati got amongst the action straight away with two quick wickets. Tom Uhr-Henry, Rithin Rakes and Yaseen Muntasir (who by all reports has developed a paddle scoop/ ramp shot) were all steady through the middle overs, but it was Hashim Ali who really broke the game apart. With 4/18 from his six overs, and only a slips catch away from a Premier 5’fa, Hashim can be well pleased with his efforts, as Uni bowled St. Kilda out for 142.

 

As for Ed Savill, he returned to the club and enjoyed a cider, learnt what a seltzer is and managed to keep his joint account credit card in his wallet. A resounding success.

 

FIFTH XI (Written by Hamish Connor)

On a hot and windy Sunday, the 5s arrived at Xavier’s home ground to a pitch and outfield that made us in unison hope to bat first. In an effort to overturn his misfortune at the toss and still yet to win a toss this year, 5th XI captain Adam “the Architect” Pustola sent keeper Nouman Mirza out with the umpire and opposing captain hoping for better luck. In what has now left most 5s players scratching their heads as to whether it really is a fifty-fifty chance, Old Xavs won the toss and decided to bat.

 

Not even the hot and blustery conditions could dampen Om Patel’s enthusiasm, grinning from ear to ear as he was tossed the new ball for the first over. The Wizard bowled a superb spell and, in the end, was very unlucky not to be rewarded for his efforts. Om was supported by Mujaba Shazad at the other end. The batsmen quickly understood why we call him “Taity” having to take evasive action as bouncers whizzed past their helmets. The incredibly windy conditions meant a game played largely without bails, an odd sight on any cricket pitch. The Old Xaverians however had clearly come with a plan to attack from ball one and with a little luck going their way, their openers started to get on top. In need of some inspiration and a breakthrough, the Architect brought himself on to bowl and got the all important first wicket, aided by the Wizard taking a great catch in the deep. Toby Rawlings, Rithik Rakesh and Samarth Goel all bowled valiantly in tough conditions. Unable to bowl due to an injury, Ram Nayak made up for it in the field, being a veritable wall of a fielder at cover throughout the innings. Muj returned later in the innings and was rewarded for his hard work with a wicket. Hamish Connor was the only other wicket taker in MUCC’s bowling innings knocking over the now bail-less stumps.

 

A rather challenging run chase awaited the students after the break, a contest which Toby Rawlings was itching to get after. The Englishman had an explosive start to his innings dispatching anything too short, full, or wide. Om Patel backed up Toby at the other end cracking some glorious shots through the covers to keep a consistently high run rate for the students in the early overs. Gov Kesar also showed good intent when at the crease. Unfortunately, the mammoth total set by Old Xavs created too much pressure and after a couple of top order wickets, the rest of the line-up struggled to accumulate runs at the rate required, Uni ultimately bundled out for 93. Mention should be made of Rakes Panicker, father of Rithin and Rithik who answered the call and helped to fill in for the team to make up a full 11.

 

A tough day at the office but not anything which will prevent the determination of the 5s to find their first win in the remaining few games of the season.

 

 

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