Uni Triumph in Heavyweight Clash

While SUCC has been immovable in its position atop the club championship ladder, a regular contender for 2nd has been Bankstown Cricket Club. And, in their match-up this week, the round promised as good a test for the Students as any this season.

At Bankstown Oval, 1st Grade set about restricting the hosts as a lost toss saw Uni with ball in hand. Early strikes from opening duo Joe Kershaw (2-32) and Ben Joy put the Students on top early, before a brief but potent rebuild from Bankstown’s middle order. This was stifled by Devlin Malone, who was clinical in his 10 overs, as he claimed 3-33– aided by skipper Liam Robertson (3-30) – to see Bankstown bowled out for 231 in the final over. For Uni, Hayden Kerr started positively with 29 from 26 – his departure bringing Ed Cowan to the crease. Cowan partnered with Damien Mortimer (44) in smashing 85 from 63 deliveries (9 fours and 4 sixes) to see Uni to a dominant 5-wicket victory with more than 10 overs to spare.

At Uni No. 1, 2nd Grade elected to bat on a well-prepared wicket but, after a sub-par start, found themselves 3-48. Ben Trevor-Jones played a mature hand in scoring 55 to curb any chance of a collapse, before Nicky Craze starred with the bat – scoring a typically swashbuckling 76 from 75 deliveries. James Larkin then played a captain’s knock as he busily amassed 57 from 55 to push the Students’ total to 242. In chase, Bankstown were in disarray, as a rampant Charlie Cassell claimed 4 wickets in his first spell to see the visitors to 4-22. And, despite a dogged resistance from the visitor’s middle order, Uni’s bowlers secured victory – bowling Bankstown out for 186, led by a brilliant 5-35 from Charlie Cassell.

Electing to bat proved an easy decision for 3rd Grade, as their line-up promised a big chase for the hosts. However, at 4-36 Uni found themselves in strife, before Alex Shaw and Alasdair Grant combined for a brutal 169-run stand; Shaw completing another rescue mission with a classy 84 and Grant looking at ease on his way to a vital 86. Uni eventually powered to the strong total of 250 from their overs. In chase, a string of scores from Bankstown’s top-order threatened, before Tom Kiereth’s orthodox removed the set batsman and the Dogs’ middle order to see him claim 4-50 – the Students eventually bowling Bankstown out for 196 to ensure victory.

At what is becoming a fortress for Uni bowlers, St Paul’s Oval hosted another dominant victory for 4th Grade over Bankstown. With the visitors electing to bat first, Henry Clark went about his weekly task of removing top-order batsman for fun - nicking one off and bowling two, to finish with figures of 3-9. Not to be caught missing out, Murray Watts and Jazz Rinka claimed 2 each cheaply, before Will Masojada cleaned up the tail with 2 wickets of his own to see Bankstown bowled out for just 71. In chase Uni found little trouble, as they secured victory 3-down in the 13th over.

At Grahame Thomas Oval, 5th Grade elected to bat first on an even wicket that demanded a strong total. But the loss of regular wickets saw Uni struggling at 6/93 and, despite the best efforts of Liam Coelho, who scored a brilliant 85 from 80 deliveries, Uni managed only 193 from their 50 overs. In chase, the hosts were methodical after losing early wickets, rebuilding promptly to secure a 4-wicket victory and a disappointing loss for the Students.

A Coach’s Look

In only his first season as Director of Cricket, Cameron Borgas has made immediate and lasting impact at SUCC. Cam brings the exuberance, energy and (increasingly requisite) athleticism of a relatively young club coach along with an abundance of knowledge that would rival any of his more senior counterparts. With a value of meticulous planning and an appreciation for player-driven trainings that are tapered with skill-specific facilitation, Cam has developed the environment of professionalism that is emblematic of Sydney University Cricket Club.

I caught up with Cam this week to get his take on the season so far, and his hopes for its remainder.

Sydney Uni has been dominant across the grades for the first half of the 2018/19 season. As Director of Cricket, what has been the most pleasing aspect of this performance?

C: The performances have been excellent but I’m a big believer in the getting the process right and the results will take care of themselves. To that end, I’ve been really pleased with the culture at the club and the attitude of the playing group. We have a very talented group with excellent depth throughout the grades which is great, but more importantly we have a committed group of genuinely good people who support each other and always put their team and club first.

Given the rigour and planning put into the preseason, you would have had a good idea of the club’s potential in the weeks leading up to Round 1. What goals did you have for certain players, squads, or club-wide, based on this year’s talent pool at SUCC?

C: The Club Championship was and still is a major goal that everyone has bought into really well and this focus has contributed to a strong, inclusive culture at the club. To be in a strong position, 175 points clear of 2nd, with 6 rounds remaining is exciting but there is a still a lot of work to do and we will need to maintain our standards against some strong opposition over the next couple of months to achieve our goal.

Seeing improvement in individuals and collectively in teams was also a goal. It’s been particularly pleasing to see so many reaching personal best levels including players such as Nick Larkin who is having his best Shield Season and currently doing well in the Big Bash, Hayden Kerr making his Futures League Debut before Christmas, and Ryan Danne making his 1st Grade Debut after starting at the club in Green Shield, just to name a few. This progression is important and we like to think we give each player at the club a really strong chance of becoming the best player they can be. It also goes without saying that we want to play in finals and win premierships and it’s fantastic that we have got ourselves into a position where we will likely be playing in a number of finals across the grades over the next couple of months.

Sydney Uni’s 1st Grade recently had its most successful campaign in the Kingsgrove Sports T20 Cup – finishing runners up to Sutherland – and have earned themselves a ticket to the inaugural National T20 Premier Cricket Tournament in March. What sort of weight does such a tournament carry in the eyes of a coach and what will a successful trip to Adelaide entail?

C: The National T20 Premier Cricket Tournament is a wonderful opportunity for our club to feature on a National Stage. Like any match or competition we are involved in, we are in it to win it. We will prepare well and give it our absolute best shot.

Given the positions of each grade (and the club itself on the championship ladder) at this point in the season, what are the sort of metrics that the 2018/19 season will eventually be judged on?

C: Inevitably seasons are judged on Premierships and we obviously want to give ourselves a chance to win as many as we can. They never come easily so we will need to maintain our standards and continue to improve in all facets. The Club Championship is massive – we are in a good position and it would be a great result if we are able to take it out. However, there is still a lot of water to go under the bridge and it is a very even competition where anyone can beat anyone. Cricket tends to make clubs/teams/players pay a high price for getting ahead of themselves so we need to ensure we stay in the present rather than looking too far ahead, and bring a finals-like focus and intensity to everything we do. If we keep nailing the process the results will take care of themselves.