With three teams competing in the first round of finals cricket this weekend, MUCC are well represented across the grades, and will enter each contest as the higher ranked team.
First XI V Northcote
Minor premiers, Melbourne University will take on Northcote this weekend at the Uni Main in their qualifying final. Playing in their first final since 2014/15, the First XI come into the finals series with a wealth of momentum, and an unchanged XI, after a successful regular season.
Fresh from a dominant victory against Casey in the final round, the Students also defeated the Dragons only two weeks ago in a one-day match at Bill Lawry Oval, and can certainly take a certain level of confidence from this performance as the two teams set to square off against each other once again.
Ever the competitor, keep an eye out for skipper, James McNeil this weekend. Playing his first final since arriving at the Club, Magga thrives under pressure and will be champing at the bit to get stuck in at the pointy end of the season. What’s more, he has happy memories of playing Northcote at the Uni Main; bringing up his maiden MUCC century when the Students hosted the Dragons in 2016/17.
To that end, Nick “Beefy” Burke will also have to contend with some unique challenges this weekend. Amid Coronavirus fears, Beef will be leaving nothing to chance as he runs water for the boys this weekend. The early word is that he will be distributing individual bottles of Mount Franklin as opposed to the usual communal beverages. Watch this space…
The winner of the Saturday/ Sunday clash will have a week off before a preliminary final in two weeks’ time, while the loser will play a semi-final next weekend.
McNeil (c), Borgas, Gregory, P Hatzoglou, Martignago, McKenna, Reid, Scammell, Stafford, Yaksender, Young.
Second XI V Footscray
The defending premiers will begin their finals campaign against Footscray this weekend at Walter Galt Reserve, and will welcome back fast-bowling ace, Akon Mawien.
Another successful regular season saw the Second XI finish in fourth place, and give themselves a good chance to defend their title, as they will enter their semi-final as the higher ranked side.
Playing at Walter Galt; traditionally a batting paradise, keep an eye out for Daniel Hutton this weekend. The stylish left-hander has fond memories in Parkdale, blasting 77 from 57 balls last time he was there, and his record this season has been particularly impressive when he has been given the chance to spend time at the crease. Look for Hutto to get in and go big this weekend. If he does, it will take the Second XI a long way towards victory.
It’s do or die for the Second XI in all finals matches, as the winner will advance, while it will be season over for the loser.
Simpson (c), Bett, Croes, Emms, Haseeb, M Hatzoglou, Hutton, Iqbal, Mawien, McLaughlan, Rolfs.
Third XI V Footscray
Also taking on Footscray in their cutthroat semi-final, the Third XI, who have become accustomed to playing cricket in March, will be looking to defend their premiership title this finals series.
Boosted by the returns of fast bowling duo, Jacob Stevenson and Callum Dooley, the Dogs’ batsmen will have their work cut out for them as the teams head to Princes Park this weekend.
Keep an eye on Doug ‘the Rug’ Warren on the weekend. Doug has been particularly impressive of late, claiming six wickets in his last three matches. The Trinity Grammar product has been built in the Bettsy mould; left-arm orthodox, a sweeper either side, and flowing curly locks, and we all know that left arm spinners have a track record when it comes to Third XI finals…
Savill (c), Domann, Dooley, Durrant, Horn, Molden, Ritchie, Roughsedge, Skinner, Stevenson, Warren, Zanoni.