Melbourne University Cricket Club has claimed the Victorian Premier Cricket Club Championship for season 2019/20 with a dominant showing against Casey in the final round, bringing the Champo back to the Pavvy for the first time since 2007/08
Entering the final Saturday of the regular season with a 25-point buffer on the Club Championship ladder, the Students made absolutely sure of securing the title with a broom against the Swans; taking the points in all four grades.
MUCC 1/214 def. CSM 211
Resuming at 0/16 after a dominant day of cricket last weekend, the Students would need a further 195 to take the points on day two. After 76ml rain fell between Wednesday and Friday, full credit must go to curators Ryan and Jez for producing a wicket on which the Students would thoroughly enjoy batting.
Picking up where they left off last week, openers Borgas and McKenna refused to give the Swans a sniff early; both resolute in defence but taking full toll when the Casey bowlers erred. Borgas managed 18 before he was caught, and the Students were 1/41; this, however, was the last wicket the Casey First XI would take for the season.
Once again, it was the inseparable pair of Fergus McKenna and Alex Gregory who piled on the pain for the opposition. The “long person” duo, who hit balls before training together, gym together and study together, are also making a good habit of scoring bulk runs for MUCC together. Batting with composure and discipline early on, as the wicket became increasingly batsman friendly, the pair expanded their games and began to beat the Swans into submission. Both passing 50 in the shadows of the lunch break, it was McKenna who put an exclamation mark on the first session, blasting 16 from the penultimate over- including two gorgeous straight sixes.
After the break, it was simply a matter of time for the Students. With Uni in complete control, McKenna continued to accelerate, his maturity and understanding of his own game shining through as he blasted his way to his second First XI century. A fine innings, his unbeaten 114 takes his season tally to a mightily impressive 635 at an average of 46.45. A fine achievement and still with plenty left to give in the finals, McKenna is the deserving winner of TRP Player of the Week.
At the other end, Gregory started to do Gregory things as the total came within reach. These include (but are not limited to) hitting cover drives on the up and turning his back on the ball as it races to the fence, and depositing spinners to wherever he pleases- often straight over their heads. The handsome all-rounder finished 79 not out; also moving past 600 First XI runs in the process for season 19/20.
A truly complete performance from the Students, Uni completed the run chase in just 59 overs. Securing the minor premiership in the First XI, the team will be keen to bottle the momentum they have captured in recent weeks as they gear up for their first finals appearance since season 2014/15.
While it has been an incredible week for the Club as a whole and the First XI, there has also been some wonderful individual success. Alex Gregory and Andrej Yaksender have both been selected in the Leader Newspaper Premier Team of the year. So well deserved, both players have had outstanding seasons to date, and we congratulate them on their selection. Great work, boys!
Alex Gregory: Runs: 622, Average: 56.55, HS: 113*
Wickets: 22, Average: 18.77, BB 3/26
Andrej Yaksender: Runs: 607, Average: 55.18, HS: 115
MUCC 7/389 def. CSM 286
Greeted by an inconceivably flat wicket at Casey Fields (the sort all batsmen would like to pack up and take with them wherever they go) Uni needed a further eight wickets on day two to secure victory and a top four berth.
In a bowling attack flush with Canadian seamers (Haseeb and Emms for those playing at home) it was the former who struck early to have the Swans reeling at 3/32. To their credit, from this point Casey dug their heels in and made the most of the fantastic batting conditions. Pushing on past 100, the fourth and fifth wickets came in relatively quick succession- also courtesy of Bruce, and Uni were on top with the score sitting at 5/157.
Despite their ascendancy, the Students were well aware that the team batting second is never out of the run chase at Casey fields; as they say, Cranbourne is conducive to scoring- and scoring fast, which the Swans did as the day entered the latter part of the second session. A speedy and indeed threatening sixth-wicket partnership took the Swans to 235, before Haseeb broke through yet again, completing his five wicket-haul in the process. His third for the season, Haseeb is making a good habit of taking big bags of wickets. He does, however, have the quietest shotgun at the Club, a trend that will need to change if he keeps taking 5’fers! Finishing with 5/50, Abdul’s outstanding figures went a long way to breaking the game open for Uni.
From this point on, it was time for the spinners to get in on the act, as John McLaughlan (2/39) bamboozled yet another batting line-up (he is also running with an excellent March beard at the moment so no surprise he’s taking lots of wickets). James Bett and Ben Rolfs each claimed one wicket apiece, as the Swans were eventually bowled out for 286.
A resounding victory when they had the worse of conditions, the Second XI can take confidence with both bat and ball from their final round match of the season, as they prepare for their premiership defence as the finals begin next week.
MUCC 230 def. CSM 130 & 5/133
Despite the early loss of Durrant (28) and Warren (3) at the start of day 2, the Third XI never really gave the Swans a look in, as they put in a complete team performance to take the points and secure second spot at Princes Park on the weekend.
With an excellent Scholar’s Cross planned, social committee extraordinaire, James Horn, had one more job to take care of before returning to the Pavvy. Steadying the ship with a composed and classy 36, he combined with youngster, Nick Ritchie (39) to help put the game beyond doubt. After tea the trend of Uni batsmen putting their hands up continued, as Lachie Melican solidified his all-rounder status with an impressive 34, and the skipper, Tom Savill aware as ever of the gravitas of the situation, blasted 46 batting at 10- I beg your pardon? All up the Third XI had raced to 230 with 30 overs left in the day.
Taking the chance to get some overs into bowlers before the finals being next week, the last session also saw the nicest man on the face of the planet claim his second wicket for MUCC. Yes, Sam Skinner, the man who can bat with both hands and is a wicket-keeper by trade, was thrown the ball for the last over of the day and didn’t disappoint, combining with Nick Ritchie behind the stumps! With the Swans 5/133 when stumps were drawn, Uni were dominant across both days, and will be looking to continue in a similar vein in the finals.
MUCC 133 def. CSM 94
Needing a further 8 wickets for less than 100, Uni the game was in the balance at the start of day 2, and Uni would need to put in a solid performance with the ball and in the field to take the points in their last match of the season.
It didn’t take long for the Students to find joy, as the first two wickets fell for just three runs, courtesy of the man with the rubber wrist, Om Patel, and Alex “sans appendix” Gall. From this point on, it really was a procession from the Students, as Casey didn’t really give a whimper. Taking wickets consistently throughout the first session, the pressure that the Students were building with the ball only enhanced by the three run out chances that were taken. Om Patel was the best of the bowlers, claiming 3/22, and rounding out a particularly impressive first season of Premier cricket, while Tama Stockley (2/26) was also impressive. Ultimately bowling out the Swans for just 94, Uni had dominated day two thus far, but the fun was only just getting started, as they prepared for a second hit.
The second innings was really the Jayden Kennedy show. Perhaps it was the week he spent back home in the Perth Sunshine, or maybe the Bodyfit circuits he completes Monday-Friday, but the winner of Ford’s “most likely to become a CEO award” also proved he is the most likely to reach and clear the boundary. The powerful right-hander hit a swashbuckling 95 from just 64 balls; his innings including 16 fours and 2 sixes. Most alarming, however, is the fact that JK also faced out two maidens! Following his dismissal, the Students declared, happy to finish their season on such a high note.