Rain distorts everything
There’s nothing more futile than a cricketer complaining about the weather, but it’s an enduring frustration of the game that results in a competition can be distorted by rain. In Round Five, only two of the twenty First Grade teams scored any competition points, while four teams (including Sydney University) didn’t have a chance to bowl or face a single delivery. It’s part of the game, however, and since the two winners, Manly and Sydney, were playing at home, they deserve the credit for maintaining grounds that were playable in adverse conditions.
If this is a bubble, it’s a long time bursting
Sydney’s win over Mosman gives it a clear lead in the First Grade competition: five wins from five starts gives Sydney 30 points, with Fairfield on 19 and a chasing pack on 18. If you want, you can construct reasons why this isn’t a true reflection of Sydney’s merit; they’ve had a soft draw, St George exposed the weakness in their bowling, or whatever. But at the moment they’re playing as a team, and with confidence, and they’re finding ways to win games. Daniel Smith is leading his young team expertly, and his personal example with the bat (his last four innings have been 75, 91, 111 not out and 77) has been outstanding. It would be unwise to think that Sydney won’t still be in the mix at the end of the season.
Moises Henriques is a better person than I am
Rory Burns slipped into the St George First Grade side this round, because what St George really needs is another left-handed batsman with a first-class average of 40 to keep things ticking over when Kurtis Patterson is on State duty. This tells us that bowling out St George won’t get any easier any time soon. It also tells us that Moises Henriques is a better person than I am – more forgiving, magnanimous and trusting. Because, if this had happened to me, and my jaw was broken in three places, and I spent five weeks eating through a straw, then no matter who (if anyone) was to blame, I’d be perfectly happy if the other guy stayed put on the other side of the world. Instead, it seems that Henriques was keen for Burns, briefly his Surrey team-mate in the 2015 English Twenty20 competition, to rejoin him on the field. Note to St George players: Burns is a talented player – you’ll enjoy having him in your side. But remember – when the ball gets hit into the air, call “mine!” early, and often, and very, very loud.
David Dawson is consistent
David Dawson grafted out 53 against Fairfield last round, which isn’t especially exciting until you consider his form over the whole of the season to date: including the T20 games, his innings have been 40, 54, 48, 87, 79 not out, 1, 86 and 53. A tough critic might suggest that he has a problem converting his starts into big scores (compared with last season, when he turned four of his seven fifties into centuries), but for sheer consistency this is hard to beat. Despite spending several seasons in Tasmania, Dawson is closing in on 5000 First Grade runs for University of NSW. That’s a less remarkable feat than it used to be, but the striking thing is that he’s done it while maintaining an average just above fifty. Incidentally, Dawson’s father, Graham, was an outstanding batsman for Sydney University in the 1960s, and his brother, Andrew, played First Grade for Sydney University as a wicket-keeper in the early 1990s.
There are some green shoots at Wests
Western Suburbs has struggled over the past couple of years. The Ashfield-based club won only one First grade match last season, and parted company with captain-coach Jeff Cook in less than harmonious circumstances. But there are some good people involved in the Club’s management (David Gilbert is President; long-serving batsman Peter Burkhart is on the Board) and they took a conscious decision not to recruit into First Grade but to rebuild the club from the ground up. After four rounds, this policy looked dubious, as the club had managed to win only two games – one in Thirds, and one in Fourths. But in Round Five, Wests took on the reigning Club Champions, Manly, winning in Seconds and winning outright in Thirds. The win in Second Grade was especially satisfying because, in pursuit of 177, Wests lost seven for 108 before a determined partnership of 65 between Peter Holland and Anton Makaroff decided the match. It was a particularly good weekend for Makaroff, who took 4-18 in Wests’ Poidevin-Gray win over Blacktown on Sunday. It’s a bit too early for parties at Pratten Park, but there are some signs that Wests are now heading in the right direction