The Red Bull Campus Cricket World Finals has come to a conclusion for another. Playing on the world stage for the first time Team Australia were eager to impress albeit with a degree of uncertainty as to what lay ahead.
The first game was a harsh reality shock for the boys from Sydney University, losing the toss and asked to bat against Bangladesh. A wicket in the first over set a dangerous tone for the innings, with Team Australia able to only post 74 against a dominant spin attack. Knowing a huge bowling performance was needed to rescue the game, the boys went out ready to fight, unfortunately the Bangladeshi captain, Hassanuzzman had other ideas and totally dominated with 52 off just 24 balls chasing the small total in seven overs.
A solid debrief and bonding session following game one saw a renewed focus going into game two against the reigning champions Ausspol Tuk Cricket, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Winning the toss Captain Ben Trevor-Jones decided to bowl first and was immediately rewarded through the bowling of Brodie Frost dismissing the South African Skipper, Murray Coetzee. Hayden Kerr was the pick of the bowlers after the 20 overs, and was unlucky to not claim his first international wicket, finishing with figures of 0/23 off four. Despite the improved effort and intensity from Team Australia, South Africa still posted an impressive 186.
Promoted to open the batting, Hayden Kerr continued his outstanding game taking full advantage of the fielding restrictions in the first six overs slapping the South African bowlers around the park. Hayden (54 off 31 including two 6s), and Ben Trevor-Jones (25 off 23) did their upmost to get Team Australia close to the target, unfortunately the skill and precision of the South Africans eventually proved too much ending the twenty overs 8/132. Despite the same result, the boys had lifted their game and competed with a very strong T20 side boasting numerous first class caps. Unfortunately Joe Kershaw copped a blow to his finger while fielding which ended his tournament.
Game three saw the Sydney Students take on Loughborough University, Leicestershire, England. With renewed confidence after the improved effort in game two, Team Australia was looking forward to taking on the old enemy. Losing the toss, Ben Trevor-Jones was asked to bowl first. Kieran Elley started beautifully with a maiden, Hayden Kerr followed this up by creating a chance first ball which was unfortunately spilt in the outfield, however Hayden followed it up claiming a wicket on his third ball of the game to have England 1 for 5 after 9 balls. The Sydney University boys had their tails up, again unfortunately the class of the English Skipper, Michael Burgess shone through as he drove, pulled and ramped his way to an impressive 75 off 38 balls. Xavier Frawley was the pick of the Australian bowlers, changing his pace with precision ending with 2/26 off his four overs, however England still managed to post a massive 211.
With very little to lose the Australians threw themselves into the chase, with Charles Litchfield scoring his first international runs and Ben Trevor-Jones again chipping in with 21, however the real stand out was Nicky Craze. Nicky showed the importance of being able to play 360° scooping, ramping, and driving his way to an impressive 68 from 50 balls. Nicky provided fantastic footage throughout his innings courtesy of the GoPro attached to his helmet. Again signs of a much-improved performance, team Australia ended their innings 8/167.
The top two teams from each pool qualified for the semi finals, resulting in South African playing Sri Lanka and Pakistan playing Bangladesh. A dominate Sri Lanka cruised into the final, while Bangladesh scraped home courtesy of an enormous energizer over.* Sri Lanka, boasting three Sri Lankan internationals (including Dhananjaya Da Silva, fresh from his 62 against the Australian national side on Friday, 9th September) defeated Bangladesh in the Final Sunday afternoon at the picturesque Galle International Stadium.
While three loses from three games is never easy to take, the quality and standard of the tournament was greater than anything the Sydney University squad had experienced before. Bangladesh, South Africa and England all boasted at least five first class players amongst their ranks, while the Sydney University was made up of predominately 2nd grade players. The squad should be enormously proud of the fight they showed and how well they competed above their weight. Every member of the squad has learnt an enormous amount about playing T20 cricket and the little things required to become a better cricketer.
**The Red Bull Energize over was introduced this year across countries domestic qualifying tournament. Essentially, the batting team nominates an over in which every run scored is doubled and every wicket lost adds five runs to the opponent. It introduces a complex tactical element to the game that has the ability to change the momentum of the game very quickly.