A disappointing weekend saw University beaten in every grade as the Panthers played some good cricket, while Uni’s efforts left a bit to be desired. Overall results notwithstanding, there were some strong individual performances across the XI’s.
As the Students forwent a traditional warm-up game in favour of full cover removal, opening batsman Jarrod Martignago was called on to hop on the roller, ensuring the wicket would be conducive for square cuts and paddle sweeps.
Always a threat bowling first at the Main, opening bowlers Mark Stafford and Simon Mackin particularly enjoy it under a dense coverage of cumulonimbus. Cloudy as it was, the pair bowled beautifully up the top, seaming the ball around, they didn’t allow the Panthers off the chain, and were unlucky not to break through on a number of occasions. It was John Mclaughlan (shock) who broke through for the Students. His off-spinners proving just a touch too good, as he got ? “left hander (caught), right hander (stumped) 2fa.” ? Bowling in partnership with debutant, Doug Warren, the spinners were particularly impressive. Both equally miserly, the kept it tight through the middle, not allowing the set batters to break the game open. Warren, unlucky not to snag his maiden First XI wicket, bowled with wonderful control and zeroed in on the front pad like nobody’s business for ten tight overs. While Dandenong were not losing wickets regularly, they were not piling on runs, either and some impressive death bowling from Stafford and Mackin meant they only added a further 60 runs from the last ten overs; 4/230 at the compulsory closure.
Navigating the new ball spell from a Test bowler, McKenna and Martignago got off to an impressive start. While McKenna fell for 16, Jarrod, feeling at home on the wicket he helped prepare, was doing it with ease. Much like his Utah, Jazz is in some fine touch at the moment, and while wickets tumbled around him, he continued to work the ball around nicely and even managed to crunch five boundaries on a Uni Main outfield that was measuring a heavy 7. McNeil showed his class in a brief but powerful innings of 18; the Pavvy roof finishing the day 156 grams of white Kookaburra heavier than it started. John Mclaughlan also enjoyed some time in the middle, working his way to a valuable 27, but ultimately too much work was left to too few, as the Students were all out for 166. Outplayed in every facet, Uni will be keen to make amends this week, currently sitting two games outside the top eight.
Investing at the Bank of Harrison seems like a wise financial decision at the moment. Significant return on investment, and still plenty of room for growth, Harrison (full length towel shirt included) is in fine form. It was Captain Capitalist and rock star Borgas who once again combined for an invaluable opening partnership. Piling on 126 for the first wicket, when Borgas (35) departed, Emms, much like a well-diversified investment portfolio, had no intention of slowing down. Belting 15 fours and one six, Emmsy anchored the innings for the Students, eventually bringing up his first hundred of the year. Great reward for what has been an impeccable start to the season, Harrison earned himself Player of the Week honours once again for his 107 opening the innings. Ably supported at the back end with run-a-ball contributions from Domann (31), Iqbal (27) and Bienvenu (25), Uni piled on an impressive 6/265 from their 50 overs.
Much like Uni, Dandenong’s openers refused to give an inch. Working their way past 100 before Jeremy Peacock was able to break through for the first wicket. Bowling a valuable middle overs spell that saw him claim two wickets, Peacock is oozing confidence at the level and has become a vital cog with both bat and ball for Uni. Equally impressive, a combined twenty overs of spin from Iqbal and Domann. Both do literally everything with an enviable sense of style and ease – including spinning the ball away from and into the right hander respectively. Each with three wickets, the pair helped strangle the Panthers, but Dandenong refused to go away, needing a run-a-ball for the last ten overs, and eventually pushing it to the final over of the day. Some power hitting eventually saw Dandenong get over the line, with a six off the last ball to seal the deal. A disappointing loss when Uni won large parts of the contest.
After the oddly shaped covers held up at Princes Park, the wicket was dry and relatively flat. Uni would bowl first to ensure they had the best of conditions, with hopes of chasing down whatever the Panthers could muster. While the opening bowlers, Molden and Patel were steady, it was the injection of spin from Elliott Durrant that started to break the game open. His fast off-breaks, think Beau Webster, proved a real challenge for Dandenong, as he broke through for the first two wickets. From then on, Rithin Rakes, on debut bowled an outstanding spell of wrist spin to claim 2/34. KD wasn’t done, however, having got a taste for this whole bowling thing, nabbing a further two poles to finish with 4/22. The innings closing at 7/177, it was honours even after the first 45 overs.
On a high from his efforts with the ball, KD continued on his merry way, trading the 156g Kookaburra for the 2-pound 8 Gray-Nics. With typical class, Kev worked the ball around and got his way to 35, combining with JK, who blasted 20 at better than a run-a-ball. As ever, Raf Epstein rafed (campaigning to make “to raf” a verb) his way to 39, helping push Uni beyond 100. Unfortunately, starts were the story of the day, as the middle order were unable to kick on, and the Students started feeling the pinch from the fact that none of the top four were able to get past 50. Leaving themselves too much work to do at the back end, Uni finished 9/173, just four runs shy in another painfully close run chase.
Playing away at Wilson Oval in the shadow of the Shep, the Fourth XI would bowl first as they tried to buck the trend of a couple of tough losses on the bounce. Stock ‘Potter’ Stockley went full “expelliarmus” early on – disarming the opening batsman for an early wicket. Following him, it was Ram – still in McNeil’s pants, who did most of the damage. His medium pacers claiming three wickets at important intervals to help hamstring the Panthers’ momentum. Ably supported by the spin of Panjwani and Bennett who claimed one wicket apiece. The innings closing at 199, Dandenong were slightly ahead of the game, and Uni would need to bat well to chase it down.
An unenviably shaky start saw Uni 3/22, with Ed Savill (19) the highest score in the top four. Thankfully, a middle order resurgence came in the shape of an arm and a pebble (that’s Lim and Stone for those playing at home) as the pair added 40 for the fourth wicket. Stone was run out for 30 and Lim anchored the remaineder of the innings for a well-crafted 43, but it wasn’t enough as Uni were ultimately 29 runs shy in the chase. Another disappointing loss, look for the Fourth XI to regroup against Northcote this weekend.