The Students traded the traditional early season sunburn for a rather severe case of windburn on the weekend as they secured the points in two of the top four grades on a wild and windy day against Footscray.
As predicted, James Bett’s inclusion in the side proved decisive in the warm-up game. Settling into his customary deep defensive position, his play of the day save and Hail Mary goal was the difference, his unflappable confidence always a highlight. Shortly afterwards, however, the team was thrown a curveball with the late withdrawal of Fawad Ahmed. While disappointing, the late change did give Ben Rolfs his first chance for the season and if it weren’t for a couple of ill-timed red lights, Rolfsy might have even made it in time for the first ball.
Bowling first, Steven Reid, debuting a pair of size 14 New Balance bowling spikes was a class above from the outset. Though he went wicketless, his skill and speed was on display for all to see, as he passed the bat on numerous occasions, finishing with figures of 0/18 from eight overs. It was at the other end where the Students, through Mark Stafford, were able to get into their work. Staff, whose classy swing and seam bowling was simply too good for the Footscray top order, bowled beautifully in the power play. Busting the game open with the early wickets of Brasher and Dean, Dr Funk managed two more in his second spell to secure the outstanding figures of 4/19, and the mantle as TRP Player of the Week. Fellow ‘long person,’ Fergus McKenna was thrown the ball at first change to try and make the most of the seaming conditions. It didn’t take him long to get into his work either, nabbing two big wickets and only conceding 15 from his 6 overs. Luckily for the Dogs, Sartori and Russ can keep each other company in Ferg’s pocket for a while…
In what was a completely dominant bowling display, Liam Scammell bowled a beautiful spell of outswing, eventually rewarded – through an exceptional slips catch from James McNeil (see MUCC Insta) with the wicket of Footscray captain Dylan Kight. The flow of wickets continued as spinners, Rolfs (1/24) and Bett (2/31) prevented any middle order resurgence and the Dogs were eventually bowled out for 137.
Chasing a small total, openers McKenna (21) and Martignago (43) ensured there were no early nerves as they drove and cut their way respectively to an impressive start. As the rain moved ever closer and with a bonus point in sight, the Students remained in front of the rate as required by DLS and despite a slight hiccup at the score moved past the hundred, Uni were always comfortable in the chase. Yaksender (22*) sealed the victory with a typical lofted off drive and Uni completed a dominant day with a bonus point victory.
Still with room to improve, the Students are working into their season and continue to play well at home, a trait that will hold them in good stead as the season goes on.
As the flow on effect from Rolfsy’s bump to the First XI, the Second XI welcomed Doug Warren and his curly mullet for his debut, alongside TGS product and former school teammate, Tom Walker.
Bowling first on the sort of wicket that batsmen dream of Monday- Friday, it was Akon Mawien who made the early running; responsible for both of the first two wickets through a run out and a catch behind respectively. From that point on, Footscray settled into their work, enjoying the favourable batting conditions. Lucien Bienvenu (2/24) bowled well to claim his first wickets as a MUCCer, and though he didn’t get rewards in the wicket column, Tom Walker bowled nicely on debut. Spinners Warren (1/45) and Iqbal were both steady and helped keep the Dogs in check, and it was only thanks to some late hitting that Footscray pushed their total up to 6/253.
Despite the early loss of Durrant, Emms and Domann went to work, forming a steady and aesthetically pleasing partnership. Together for over an hour and a half, the pair added a tick over a hundred, before Domann was dismissed just after making his maiden Second XI 50. Emms (59) did a good job of anchoring the first part of the innings, before his dismissal coincided unfortunately with the arrival of the rain. With overs lost and not a corresponding number of runs shaved from a revised total, Uni would have to score quickly with two new batsmen, a task which unfortunately proved too much for the middle order. Iqbal, Hutton and Warren all made steady starts, and some big hitting from TJ down the order helped get Uni close, but the students were eventually bowled out for 215, fifteen shy of the amended target.
Another strong showing from a youthful side, the Second XI can be confident they are moving in the right direction.
Boasting a youthful and fast bowling attack, new skippers, Jacob Stevenson and Jayden Kennedy were quick to choose to bowl after winning the toss at Princes Park.
It was Footscray, however, who made the fast start. With some hard hitting from their openers they were able to put Uni on the back foot, making their way to 99 before blonde bombshell, Dan McNab was able to strike, snaring three wickets in a row, to have the Students back in the game with the score at 3/103. An invaluable spell, Dan’s 3/17 showed class and maturity in difficult conditions. After he broke the game open, the quicks got in on the action, as Gus Molden, man bun in tow, proved too good for the middle order, repaing the rewards for an impressive spell with figures of 3/27. Both the skippers also managed a wicket apiece, and at the conclusion of the 45 overs, Footscray had been restricted to 8/187 and it was honours even.
Traditionally fast starters with the bat, Kennedy and Gall made no exception on the weekend. JK blasted five boundaries in his rapid fire innings of 25, and Gally was elegant for his 20, but unfortunately that was where the joy ended for Uni. A regular flow of wickets and an inability to get in against a strong Footscray bowling line-up saw Uni always behind in the chase. Despite some resistance from Jeremy Peacock (20) the Students struggled and were ultimately bowled out for 97. A tough day, there are still some positives to take from the result and with some added batting depth to return to the side, they will be hoping for a stronger showing next week.
In the shadow of Vic Uni, the Students in the Fourth XI took the Dogs to school…
Bowling first at Tony Dodemaide, Om Patel added to his ever growing list of victims straight away trapping the opening batsman LBW to have Footscray 1/1. Despite some steady partnership building, Uni never really let the Dogs get off the leash, with all bowlers contributing evenly. Ollie de Stefanis bowled an invaluable spell (2/29) and Jimmy Anderson did his name proud, also claiming a wicket in what was a particularly economic spell. Eventually bowling Footscray out for 186, Uni had the momentum after the first innings, and boasting a strong batting line up, could be confident of taking the points.
Ed Savill (18) and Jimmy Anderson (17) made a steady start for Uni, but a flurry of wickets left the Students reeling at 4/46. Thankfully Om Patel demonstrated his all-round ability with a calm and composed 31 to halt Footscray’s momentum. The star of the show, however, was Raf Epstein. As predicted, Raf beat the fielders placed in orthodox positions and scored at a good rate to help get his side into a winning position. Once he passed 50, it the rest was academic for the Students, his fine innings of 63 not out enough to steer the Fourth XI to victory. Combining with Antony Keely, (25*) Raf’s innings was assured and mature. A sure sign of things to come, the Fourth XI can be pleased with their efforts and will look to continue to build on their momentum next week.
Special congratulations to Sam Skinner and Laban Ditchburn as well, who missed the Round 2 fixture, as they were both completing the Surf Coast Century. Yes, that’s 100km on foot in one day. A monumental effort, they have both completed the race in the past and just love getting KMs in the legs. Great work, boys!