Counting is an under-rated skill
In the week in The Grade Cricketer published the second volume of his tortured thoughts on the game, it was somehow fitting that the author's club was tied up in a mess that will fit very neatly into volume three.
Wet weather stripped 26 overs from the match between Gordon and Northern District at Mark Taylor Oval and the reduced time and flat surface combined to create an old-fashioned declaration game. Gordon batted into the second day, and captain Steve Colley (who led the way with an excellent innings of 90) set the home side a target of 328 in 78 overs. The main obstacle for Northern District was Charlie Stobo, who made good use of the new ball and quickly removed Tom Fulton and Jonathan Whealing. But Henry Hunt, who has found a rich vein of form, combined with Andrew Harriott for a third-wicket stand of 109 (in which, unusually, Harriott was the quieter partner). Matthew Parkinson (a Lancashire leg-spinner who turned 21 yesterday, so happy birthday, Matt!) hauled Gordon back into the game with two quick wickets, but then Hunt and the aggressive Daniel Anderson (who hit 79 from 87 balls) added 148 for the fifth wicket to place NDs in a winning position.
At some point during that partnership, Henry Hunt planted a ball over the fence. The scorers dutifully recorded the six, but then the umpire signalled "dead ball", apparently because a child had wandered onto the field as the ball was being bowled. It seems that the dead ball call was missed by both scorers, so that Northern District continued their chase in the belief that they had six more runs that they actually did. Matt Junk and Parkinson triggered a brief collapse late in the day but Hunt, who played brilliantly, kept his cool and hit Parkinson to the fence with one ball remaining in the final over. Northern District celebrated its win, only to be told by the umpires half an hour later that Hunt's six hadn't counted, that the scores were wrong and they had finished two runs short of their target. By then, the covers were down and it was too dark to resume play, so the match was called a draw.
Whether that result will stand will be decided by the SCA on Thursday, and we make no comment on that. But it would be a shame if Hunt's fine innings went unrewarded. So far this season, he has hit 114, 31 and 160 not out in Firsts, and a pair of unbeaten fifties in Poidevin-Gray, but this may have been the best performance of his career to date.
Chris Green has settled in at Manly
Three games into the season, Manly sits in first place in First Grade, and new captain Chris Green averages 112 with the bat and 10 with the ball. In Round Three, the off-spinner collected a career-best 7-42 against North Sydney, bowling with immaculate control on a dry surface. North Sydney had a glimpse of a chance when Manly lost its fourth wicket on 119, with 111 runs still needed, but then Green played with cool authority for 69 not out to steer his side to first innings points. He was well supported by Jack Edwards (64 not out), who bashed three sixes in his first half-century in the top grade. It used to be said by Rugby League players that the only Manly Junior anyone had ever seen was the sailing boat, but Edwards (who emerged from Beacon Hill and St Augustine's College) is a genuine local product.
Easts are formidable at full strength
There are a few grade bowlers who will be hoping that the Test selectors change their mind about Peter Nevill. In Round Three, Nevill was one of five players in the Easts side with first-class experience (the others were Angus Robson, Nick Maddinson, Will Somerville and Harry Conway - and that doesn't count NSW contract player Henry Thomas Raphael York Thornton), and understandably the Dolphins had too much firepower for Hawkesbury. Hawkesbury did pretty well to reach a solid total of 331, with Jordan Gauci showing his best form of the year, but on Owen Earle Oval, Easts were always favourites to overhaul that target. It was no surprise that the first wicket fell to Blues spinner Arjun Nair - but it took over two hours for the first breakthrough to come, and by that time Maddinson (94) and Nevill had already added 178 for the first wicket. Nevill carried on serenely, batting for over four hours for his unbeaten 130, and vigorous cameos from veteran Ian Moran (46 from 45) and newcomer Baxter Holt (38 not out) hurried Easts to victory in barely 65 overs. The Dolphins now sit in second place on the ladder, and the interesting question will be whether they have the depth to maintain that position once the side is depleted by representative calls.
Sean Abbott is a handy grade cricketer
Parramatta's Sean Abbott must still be working out how he managed to end up on the losing side last weekend. Returning from State duty on day two of the game against University of NSW, Abbott wrapped up the Bees' innings with a burst of three for one from three overs. Then he hit his maiden First Grade century, 102 from 154 balls. His partnership with Nick Bertus carried Parramatta to three for 194, a decent platform from which to chase 351. But the game turned when off-spinner Marcus Atallah removed Bertus for 87. After that no-one could stay with Abbott long enough to build a substantial partnership, and Atallah, Declan White and Josh Bennett worked their way through the lower order to give the Bees their first win of the season (which owed a good deal to James Henry's patient 153 on the first day). Abbott's grade stats for the season currently stand at 146 runs at 146, and eight wickets at an average of two. Useful.
The British are coming
The annual influx of pale-faced county cricketers is now almost complete. Apart from Angus Robson (Sussex) at Easts and Matt Parkinson (Gordon), other English players in action in Round Three included Ned Eckersley (Wests and Leicestershire), Oliver Pope (Campbelltown and Surrey), Nick Selman (the Glamorgan batsman, who hit 97 for UNSW) and Sydney's Delray Rawlins, a Bermudan left-arm spinner who now plays for Sussex. It's good experience for them and at times gives Sydney cricket a nice cosmopolitan touch - the closing stages of the game between Gordon and Northern District featured a Lancashire spinner (Parkinson) bowling to Chad Soper, opening bowler for Papua New Guinea, and that isn't something you see every day.