Students hope for a broom in Christmas stocking

T’is the season for a broom, but the Students will have to succeed both at home and far away as they take on Geelong in the final round before Christmas. Boasting unchanged XI’s across all grades, the lack of movement at the selection table wasn’t going to stop Nic Brian et al. from chewing the fat at the Clyde on Tuesday – MUCCers will always jump at the chance to support the local.

FIRST XI

Away from College Crescent for the first time in season 20/21, the First XI will make their longest trip of the year, travelling convoy style to the Kardinia Park precinct for their Round 4 clash with the Cats. One member of the team, however, won’t be part of any Saturday morning car-pool; Nick ‘Beefy’ Burke is making the most of his Accor Hotel membership, living it up at the Corio Novotel – room service in moderation please, Beef.

In fine form as a team, the First XI will be looking to make it three bonus point victories on the bounce, having accounted for the Dogs and Bombers in the last fortnight. It has been the bowlers who have done the damage of late, meaning there are a few batsmen who are keen to make the most of the traditionally favourable batting conditions down the highway. 

Player to watch: Fergus McKenna

Ferg has been in excellent touch at the top of the order. Steering the team home with ease last week, he uses his long blade Gray Nicolls in style. Moreover, he continues to turn himself into a bona-fide all-rounder; his medium pace claiming big wickets “on the reg” as Bettsy would say (yes, I promise, he does say this). If that wasn’t enough, McKenna has recently been fitted for a whole new set of golf clubs – not really relevant – but exciting nonetheless.

SECOND XI

How many school teachers will be spending their first day of school holidays at the library? Well, at least one, as Second XI skipper, Daniel Hutton prepares to lead his side at the Main tomorrow. Hoping to claim their first win for the year, the Second XI will be looking for a more complete performance with both bat and ball to give themselves every chance.

Though they struggled last week, the young team will be confident that they can thrive in familiar surrounds, especially with a pair of exciting quicks who will be keen to make the most of the Uni Main first up. 

Player to watch: James Browning

J-Bizzle is the business. The young left-armer is thoroughly enjoying being able to bowl in full flight once again – the same can’t be said for the bloke standing 22 yards away. Fresh off some runs down the list last week, JB will be chock full of confidence and should he find his rhythm, he will be tough to stop on the weekend. 

THIRD XI

After a pair of batting collapses in the last two rounds, the Third XI will be keen to find some fluency from the top order as they travel to Kardinia Park to face Geelong. A lovely venue for cricket, the Third XI ground is a well struck drop punt from the famed ‘Cats Shop’ so should any Third XI players need to complete some last-minute Christmas shopping, that could surely be arranged. 

It shapes as an important contest for the Third XI, who have only won one match to date. Keen to square the ledger heading into the break, co-captain Tom Savill and Sam Skinner will be keen to see the best of their talented line-up.

Player to watch: Hugo Bienvenu 

Last week, Hugo tried to tell the palest bloke at the club that it’s not easy being tanned. While his cries for sympathy fell on deaf (and ever so slightly sunburnt) ears, his talent with the bat speaks for itself. Having started with a bang against the Blues in Round 1, the Frenchman will be keen to get back amongst the runs once more. Should he go big, he will anchor the innings for the Students, helping them post a winning score.

FOURTH XI

Back at Princes Park, the Fourth XI will also be out to get level the numbers in the win/ loss column in their final clash before the Christmas break. Having come close last week, the Fourth XI are building nicely, as their young group continue to grow in both confidence and Premier Cricket experience.

‘Run Machine’ Raf Epstein may have narrowly missed out on a new pair of Nikes courtesy of TRP during the week, but his strong start to the season has impressed many once again. With the ball, Jimmy Anderson has been the star, and should the young team be able to put together a complete performance with both bat and ball, the Fourth XI will be hard to stop.

Player to watch: Ninad Panjwani

Ninad has been a real problem for opposition batting line-ups thus far. His left arm tweakers have seen him claim six wickets for the season, and if he keeps arriving to games in his camouflaged jacket, no one will see him coming and the wickets might just keep flowing.

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