Nick Browne can bat
Although we wish there had been another way to learn this.
Nathan Price is under-rated
The highest, and classiest, innings of Sunday’s Kingsgrove Sports T20 final was played by Sydney University’s captain Nick Larkin; but the batsman who had the greatest impact on the result was Nathan Price. His assault on the new ball brought him 45 runs from only 25 deliveries, and was ended only by the first of two extraordinary catches Tim Ley held on the day (he also held an easy one, and executed a run-out). Price’s hitting down the ground was brutal, and he repeatedly threatened the cars parked in Alfreda Street. Incidentally, while several big hits were bashed into Alfreda Street on Sunday, only one found its way onto Dolphin Street. Is the ground longer at one end than the other? Was it the direction of the wind? We need to know.
Anyway, it was Price who ensured that Randwick-Petersham extracted the fullest possible advantage from the powerplay, setting his team up for a target that remained slightly out of University’s reach throughout the chase. Quite apart from that, Price stepped in with the ball to burgle the wicket of Liam Robertson just as the University all-rounder was threatening to take control of the game.
Price flies under the radar a bit, because he doesn’t churn out runs in industrial quantities, in the manner we’ve come to expect of the leading players in the competition. He seldom turns up in representative sides, although he has appeared for both New South Wales and the ACT in the Futures League. But he has a knack of making contributions when they matter, and when Randwick-Petersham wins a game, he’s usually played an important role somewhere along the line.
Congratulations to Randwick-Petersham on another T20 title, and thanks to the club for presenting such good facilities on the day. Thanks also go to Harry Solomons and Kingsgrove Sports for their immensely generous sponsorship of the competition.
It’s getting crowded in here
After six rounds of the First Grade competition, Sydney remains in the lead with an unblemished record of six wins; Easts, Campbelltown-Camden and Fairfield round out the top four. That’s when things get interesting; if you disregard quotients (and you shouldn’t, but we’ll get to that), then fifth place is shared by no fewer than ten teams. That’s right: exactly half of the teams in the competition sit on equal fifth. It has been many years since the competition ladder has been as tightly packed as this, and although there are plenty of games to go, this does strongly suggest that by March quotients could become very important in separating teams for places in the finals. Teams tend not to give much thought to quotients before the back end of the season, by which time it’s often too late to improve them very much, but if the table remains this congested then they may start to play a role in strategy long before March.
Nick Watkins can’t bowl
OK, so there are plenty of things you can say in Nick Watkins’ favour. He has overcome a hearing impediment to become a very fine top-order batsman (and, indeed, has represented the Australian Deaf team). He’s in the form of his life, having been named Player of the Round for his unbeaten 166 against St George, and following that with 202 against Campbelltown-Camden (in which, although he batted into the second day, he faced 293 deliveries, hitting 27 fours and two sixes). Not bad for a player who began this season in Second Grade after returning to Sydney from a stint with the Gold Coast Dolphins (Watkins is a native Queenslander, who played for Queensland Under-19s some years back). And yet he cannot bowl. We know this because, if he could, he must surely have been used by North Sydney by now. Although he currently averages 159 in First Grade this season, Watkins has not yet finished up on the winning side, because North Sydney simply can’t dismiss its opposition. Although Campbelltown-Camden lost both openers with only 43 runs on the board, they still chased down North Sydney’s target of 383 with relative ease. In six games this season, North Sydney has taken only 35 wickets, and these have cost 48 runs each. Unless North Sydney’s luck turns soon, Watkins is on track to challenge the record set by Geoffrey Boycott who, at Waverley in 1976-77, set the standard for the most runs scored in a team that won the least.
Dan Rixon’s back
You remember Dan Rixon. Kept in First Grade for Sutherland. Father used to play a bit. Decent, aggressive batsman down the order. Missed the start of the season. Well, in his second game of the season, Rixon walked out to open the batting for Sutherland Seconds against Hawkesbury at Owen Earle and just teed off. He faced 248 deliveries, smashing 32 fours and seven sixes, before he was eventually dismissed for 272 – just short of the highest score ever made in Second Grade. That record still belongs to North Sydney’s Alfred White, who hit 276 not out against Manly in 1904-05. But plenty of other records were massacred. Rixon’s innings was the highest score ever made for Sutherland in Seconds, and the sixth highest in any grade for any club. His third wicket stand of 347 with Jamie Brown was the highest for any club in Second Grade, and the highest for Sutherland in any grade. And this from a player who had never hit even a single century in his 261 previous matches for Sutherland.