Five Sydney University teams appear in the semi-finals this week, every one of them entering the contest with the advantage of having finished the regular season as minor premiers.
First Grade takes on Sydney at University Oval. Last weekend’s heavy rain prevented any result from being reached in last week’s qualifying finals, so Sydney advanced to the semi-final after finishing fourth in the competition. University restricted Sutherland to 8 for 221 on a damp first day, the only play possible in its qualifying final. Four of those wickets fell to leg-spinner Devlin Malone, who has now 61 First Grade wickets this season.
Head to head: University had a comfortable win when the two sides met in Round 3. But Sydney prevailed in a last-over finish in the grand final of the 50-over competition two weeks ago.
Key players: With Nick Larkin returning to Sheffield Shield duty, University will be looking to the experience of Damien Mortimer and Liam Robertson to lead the way with the bat, while Ryan McElduff, in his first full season of First Grade, has played some very composed innings under pressure in the last few games. Nick Walker returns to the side in Larkin’s place. Devlin Malone is the most dangerous bowler on either side, but if the recent rain has left some moisture in the pitch, conditions could suit Tim Ley, who knows more about bowling in finals than anyone else. Sydney will be hoping that experienced opener Matt Rogers and newcomer Liam Scott can provide a good foundation with the bat, while Anthony Mosca - who scored a matchwinning hundred in the Limited Overs final, is a threat in the middle order and wicket-keeper Beau McClintock has been in dangerous form with the bat. The Sydney attack is led by former NSW opening bowler Nic Bills and off-spinner Ben Manenti.
Who will they play? Penrith plays UTS North Sydney in the other semi-final.
Seconds play Bankstown at their adopted home ground, Coogee Oval. Invited to bat on a lively pitch last week, Bankstown collapsed for only 90 against Sydney, but moved into the semi-finals anyway, after finishing fourth in the competition. University dismissed Penrith on the first day of its game, before rain cut short the chase.
Head to head: University beat Bankstown by 56 runs in a 50-over match in Round Nine. Nicky Craze (76) and James Larkin (57) set up a strong University total before Charlie Cassell (5-35) ran through Bankstown’s top order.
Key players: University’s side is full of players with plenty of finals experience - Ben Joy, David Miller and Steve Hobson have all been there many times before. Hobson, playing in his last season, has the ability to bat the opposition out of the game, and left-hander Nicky Craze can turn the course of a match in an hour. Bankstown’s Tony Clark may be the oldest man on the field by some distance, but he’s one of the few players to take 1000 wickets in Premier Cricket, and will bowl his medium pace shrewdly (while allowing time for his son, Ryan, to send down a few overs as well). Zeeshaan Ahmed, Joel Brockley and Mitchell Hinds have batted consistently all season.
Who will they play? Parramatta plays Sydney in the other semi-final.
Third Grade also plays Bankstown, at St Paul’s. An early University collapse to Northern District in the qualifying final was salvaged by a defiant partnership between wicket-keeper Hayden Storey (64) and veteran all-rounder Tom Kierath (54 not out), which enabled their side to hold its top seeding for the semi-final. University will face a Bankstown side that batted doggedly against Manly in a drawn qualifier last weekend.
Head to head: University won the Round Nine encounter at Jensen Park by 54 runs in a 50-over game. But the leading batsmen from that game, Alex Shaw (84) and AJ Grant (86) won’t be in the side this weekend.
Key players: University’s attack is balanced and aggressive: in the last third of the season, seamers Josh Toyer, Murray Watts and Lewis McMahon and spinners Tom Kierath and Will Masojada have all recorded striking returns. The batting has lots of experience, with Jack Hill, Ben Larkin and Charles Litchfield at the top of the order, while Matt Moran has a phenomenal record in Thirds and the ability to score big hundreds. Tom Kierath is retiring at the end of this season, and this will be his 53rd finals match in a remarkable career for the club. Solid batting has been the key to Bankstown’s success this season. Daniel Hayes, Mansukh Singh and Cameron Cotter provide a stable top order, and captain Iain Ridley adds experience.
Who will they play? Easts play Manly in the other semi-final.
Fourth Grade meets Manly-Warringah at Tunks Park. University fought out an even day’s cricket against Penrith last weekend, before rain ended the game at an interesting stage. Penrith was contained to 9 for 194 even though former Sheffield Shield batsman Kevin Geyer hammered a century. University now faces Manly-Warringah, whose bowlers enjoyed favourable conditions to reduce Eastern Suburbs to 7 for 85 before further play became impossible.
Head to head: University won a low-scoring 50-over game after routing Manly for only 81. But it would be wrong to read much into that, because that was in Round One. Only two University players remain in the side from that game.
Key players: Captain Ash Cowan needs only 16 runs to become University’s highest run-scorer in Fourth Grade, and seems to save his best for the finals. Ed Arnott adds experience and composure to the side, while the attack - Brodie Frost, Jazz Rinka, Aidan Peek and Jack Lawson - troubles most opponents. Manly’s young batsman Joel Davies has had a quiet season in Fourths, but was sensational in Green Shield and has tons of promise. Captain Adam Gummer has a strong all-round season, averaging just under 30 with the bat and 11 with the ball.
Who will they play? St George and Easts play the other semi-final.
After weekend washouts, University now travels to Chatswood Oval to play Gordon. Both sides will appreciate the opportunity to play at a First Grade venue.
Head to head: There’s no form to go on - rain prevented play when the two sides were due to meet in Round 13.
Key players: In a side that generally bowls better than it bats, University’s Azhar Saeed has been consistent at the top of the order. Matthew Johns and Max Shanahan lead a very effective attack. For Gordon, Green Shield batsman Jaiden Grey has scored consistently all season. Opening bowler Callum Braden has taken his 20 wickets at the ridiculous average of 4.80, including a burst of 4-8 against Mosman.
Who will they play? Penrith and Warringah play in the other semi-final.
Uni’s Day Out
After another dominant weekend in the final round of the regular season, Sydney University Cricket Club has won the club championship, claimed four minor premierships and cemented finals berths for all six of its senior grades. In need of a clean sweep and a couple of bonus point wins to secure the all-time club championship record, Uni went about their business in textbook clinical fashion to achieve the feat – finishing the regular season with 1624 points, the highest total ever achieved in the competition’s history.
At Uni No. 1, after losing the toss, 1st Grade struck early after a seaming delivery from Joe Kershaw had the visitors 1/1. After a good fightback saw Wests close in on triple figures, Kershaw struck again to give Uni’s bowlers a good look at the Pies’ middle order. Tim Ley (2-32) and Ryan McElduff (3-33) partnered to claim wickets at regular intervals – eventually bringing Wests’ innings to a close at 161 in the 40th over. Impending weather threatened the Students chase, playing on the wicket and the minds of the batsman, as Uni found themselves 4/35 inside the first 10 overs. However, in pursuit of a revised target, Ryan McElduff starred with the bat to hold Uni’s innings together – amassing a classy 65 not out from 89 deliveries (with 7 fours and 1 six) to see the Students to victory in the 34th over. With this win, 1st grade secured their position as minor premiers and will face Sutherland this weekend at Uni No. 1.
At Pratten Park, 2nd Grade looked to bounce back after a tough last Saturday saw them concede their first match of the season to Sutherland. And, after Wests won the toss and elected to bat, the Students did just that through Charlie Cassell – whose return to 2nd Grade saw him claim 2 wickets in 2 balls in his first spell. With the hosts 2/8, the Students looked to capitalise, however a consistent shower meant a wet ball, which offered little for the bowlers. Despite this, Uni drew wickets intermittently, with Kieren Tate, Dugald Holloway and Dave each claiming 2. Wests rallied in their last 5 overs, to post a competitive 9/191 in trying conditions. It would be a difficult chase for Uni, with over an hour spent off the field due to weather. However, Ryan Danne saw a timely return to form to post a match-winning 84 – supported by Nicky Craze (37 from 41) and Dave Miller (33 not out) – and see the Students to victory in the 44th over. 2nd Grade also claimed minor premiership rights and will face Penrith at Coogee Oval – their adopted home-ground for the finals.
In what was the performance of the round, 3rd Grade put on a show at St Paul’s Oval after Wests’ won the toss and elected to bat. It was a day (morning) out for the quicks who tore through the visitors’ line-up, led by a rampant Murray Watts who claimed 5-2 in his 4 overs, including a hat-trick to round out the innings. Supported by Brody Frost (3-12) and Josh Toyer (2-26), Watts ran through the Pies, bowling them out for a mere 53 inside 20 overs. In chase, Uni dismissed of the total in quick fashion, Jack Hill finishing 25 not out to see the students to a 9-wicket victory inside 10 overs. After claiming the minor premiership, 3rd Grade will face up against Northern Districts, in this weekend’s quarter-final clash.
At Blick Oval, 4th Grade were sent in by their hosts on a wicket that demanded patience early. After a faltering start, the Students rallied, to eventually post a competitive 8/221 from their 50 overs. Their innings was led by Michael Robinson, who amassed an important 57 – striking the ball cleanly and consistently – before Liam Coelho (44) and all-rounder Tom Fullerton (39 not out) combined well to boost the Students’ total. In reply, Sydney Uni were typically relentless with the ball in hand, strangling the hosts run-scoring options. Jack Lawson led the way through the middle, claiming 3 wickets for just 25 runs, after Tom Hill opened the Students’ tally with 2-15 of his own. Sydney Uni eventually secured an 82-run victory in the 42nd over, cementing themselves as minor premiers ahead of their clash with Penrith this weekend.
At Camperdown Park, 5th Grade were sent in after Wests won the toss and elected to bowl. Skipper Andrew Wilkinson led by example with a gritty 53, before the swashbuckling Tom Galvin struck a vital 76, dispatching Wests’ bowlers at will, to help Uni to a competitive 200 before being bowled out in the 42nd. In need of a strong bowling performance, Uni’s pacemen went to work on Wests’ top order – combining well to have them 3-30 and then 6-63. Billy Barge (2-13) and Shehan Canagasingham (1-19) opened Uni’s account, before Murray Miles and Matthew Johns chipped in with 2 each to restrict Wests to 8/125 and ensure victory. Finishing the season in 5th position, 5th Grade will face-off against Mosman at Allan Border Oval in this weekend’s quarter-final.
Not only is Sydney Uni dominating on-field (more to come later today), but our members are also going above and beyond off the field with a number of our members supporting the T20 Charity Match at St Ignatius College Riverview on Monday 18th March.
The ‘Celebrities’ team will have a distinct SUCC flavour with Ed Cowan, Ryan McElduff, Tim Croft and potentially a surprise appearance by SCG MacGill all slated.
Club legend, James Rodgers, will be coaching the Riverview side.
The charity T20 match is in memory of James’ son, Patrick, whose idea this was over 9 years ago.
Proceeds of the event go to support Jarjum College Redfern, a small primary school for indigenous kids who would otherwise not go to school. Last year, this event raised over $25,000 to the cause.
Anyone interested in supporting the fundraising efforts of James and the Riverview team, please visit https://www.riverview.nsw.edu.au/t20/ and purchase a raffle ticket. Some amazing prizes on offer, and all money goes to a good cause.