From Parkville to Parkdale, it was a weekend of utter dominance for the Students. Headlined by two First XI debuts, Mark Stafford’s 150th First XI match and a classical century from McKenna, no Hawk was spared as Uni secured their third broom of the season.
After making second graders look silly for the first half of the season, James Browning and Yuvraj Singh were duly rewarded as they made their first XI debuts in cap #981 and #982 respectively. For JB his selection was the culmination of years of dedication, discipline and persistence as he has overcome a number of injury setbacks to allow his talent to shine through. A pleasure to watch in full flight, this weekend will surely be the first of very many at the level.
By contrast, Yuvi has made a rapid ascent since his arrival at the club last season. Outstanding all-round ability making him an invaluable asset to the club, his calmness and composure has allowed him to thrive every time he has gone up a grade. A quiet achiever, he prefers to let his cricket do the talking and that will hold him in good stead as he makes yet another step up in his Premier cricket career.
Elsewhere, MUCC’s – if not cricket’s most loyal man – Mark Stafford played his 150th First XI match. A great man, a wonderful teammate, a true friend and a bloody brilliant bowler, Squid has a claim to be everyone’s favourite Student; his 150 First XI matches an achievement of which he should be very proud. Particularly since he hasn’t had a red ball in his hand for more than 1,000 days in order to get there.
Thankfully, that all changed on the weekend, as the boys got amongst it in the whites at Walter Galt…
Bowling first on wicket that looked like a first-year Uni student trying to grow patchy facial hair, Uni were quick into their work as Janak – who has never bowled more than 10 overs in a day as a Student – slammed one into the stumps. Not long after that, JB broke through for his first at the level, finding the edge and then Noah’s gloves to give Uni a real jump start. From there, the Hawks put on a long, but painfully slow partnership. Thankfully the activity at neighboring Moorabbin Airport kept everyone engaged. In any case, the middle session flew past as McKenna plugged in the spinnies from either end, before the Hawks opening bowlers warmed up at the tea break with their side only two wickets down.
Perhaps a portent of things to come, Uni really ramped things up in the evening session, as Yuvi broke through for his maiden First XI wicket, while Doug claimed three, JP a further three to finish with 4/42, and big Staff managed 1 in his milestone game. A heck of an effort, Uni claimed 8/58 to roll the home side for 198.
Despite the loss of one early wicket, McKenna and Emms came together to steady things for Uni on Sunday morning. Having met Harry’s girlfriend on Saturday morning, the best buddies were even more in sync on Sunday, as they shared a 40 run stand. Thereafter, Andrej – who woke up and was therefore on 35 – added a further 37 to finish with 62 and put Uni in a strong position.
All the while, McKenna was indomitable at the other end. WIlling to forgo his vegetarianism for an afternoon, he feasted on the Hawks for the fourth time in four years, withstanding their best efforts before taking full toll as they toiled later in the day. An innings flush with style, leadership and a whole bunch of effortless timing, Ferg once again showed the way for the Students. In a nice touch, he brought up his century – and the winning runs – with a powerful six over long on.
As ever, he simply smiled, shrugged his shoulders and thanked the opposition for their time. A special player and a classy operator, it’s a joy to watch him do his thing.
It was a squarky bunch of hawks who made their way to the Main on Saturday morning to face the Second XI. A big match in the context of the season, the Students needed a win to keep pushing towards the top of the ladder.
Batting first, Uni, struggled to get momentum initially as a combination of steady bowling and a slightly two-paced wicket made scoring a challenge. Barnes endured throughout, working his way into the innings like a gradually sharpened pencil. At the other end, a steady contribution from Hugo (23) kept things ticking, before an explosive partnership between Horn (28) and Melican (30) gave Uni some real momentum at the back end. A final total of 189 was something to defend, but the Students would need to bowl well.
Immediately setting two back on the hook, Gus Molden secured a pole in the first set to get Uni off and racing. On debut at the other end, Harry ‘Moose’ Sheahan bowled some beautiful left-armers to pile the pressure onto the Hawks. Shaping some back and sliding others through, he nabbed his first Second XI wicket with an edge through to Horny. Molden again, Melican and an Australian Open sponsored run-out gave Uni a real sense of dominance, before Harrison Thompson all but secured the game with some fine leg-spin. With drift, turn and a bunch of top-spin, HT claimed a wicket-maiden in his first over, before nabbing a second with a smart piece of bowling later on. At 9/133, the game was all but over, but this game had one last twist…
A heck of a tenth wicket partnership and some smart batting from the Hawks got them within an inch of victory, as they needed ten from the last two overs. Enter HT again, going for just a single off the second last set, his composure unbelievable on debut. Then again, he has one of the strongest handshakes in the business, so one can’t be surprised. Then, with 9 to defend, Nick Ritchie was thrown the ball for the 50th. Who’d have thought a Second XI game could be more stressful than organisng all the logistics for the ‘Happy Slam’? In any case, Ricko held his nerve, hit the stumps and secured victory by five runs for the students – go boys!
Not only that, in bowling out the Hawks, Uni avoided any over-rate dramas, which was great because we were six down…
More to come…