There’s an early contender for upset of the season
Mosman turned up at Manly Oval as rank outsiders, fresh from a Round One loss to Campbelltown and facing a home side that included no fewer than five players with first-class experience. When the Whales lost their first three wickets for only 14 runs, the game appeared to be heading in its expected direction. But, from that point, Mosman fought back superbly. First, Lachie Hearne and Anthony Adlam put together a partnership of 142 that dragged Mosman to a defendable total of 213, and then Dean Crawford and Hayden Brown - who struck with his very first ball in First Grade - each grabbed a wicket before Manly had scored a run. It was the spinners who did the damage on day two, with Jayden Park and Danul Dassanayake taking three wickets each as Manly slumped to 8 for 103. Some late defiance from Ahillen Beadle, Joel Foster and Mickey Edwards kept Manly in the game, but Crawford returned to trap Foster in front, giving Mosman a memorable victory. Two weeks ago, Manly’s only problem was how they’d cope if the Edwards brothers signed a package deal to move to Love Island, but there’ll be no room for complacency when they take on Sydney University next weekend.
Supporting Campbelltown is like watching a yo-yo
Campbelltown-Camden has had a crazy few seasons - over the course of three years, the Ghosts have gone from the wooden spoon, to minor premiers, and back to the wooden spoon. It’s early days, of course, but guess who leads the First Grade competition after two rounds? Campbelltown demolished University of NSW in Round Two, with young leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha grabbing a career-best 6-33. Jarrad Burke is usually involved somewhere when Campbelltown does well, and he chipped in with a couple of wickets, including the important one of Matt Gilkes, while Luke Webb continues to trouble top-order batsmen with his late inswing. Campbelltown is shaping up for an excellent season, which means it’s fairly safe to predict an absolute shocker for them in 2020-21.
It’s a race to 200
Only one bowler in the long history of Sydney First Grade cricket has taken 200 wickets before his 21st birthday. Guess who? You’re probably wrong, so the answer’s at the end. Anyway, no-one seems likely to match that effort any time soon, but two of Sydney’s young spinners are currently in a race to see who can become the second-youngest bowler to reach that mark. Superficially, Ben Manenti of Sydney and Devlin Malone of Sydney University don’t have all that much in common. Manenti bowls off-breaks, Malone bowls leg breaks. Malone wouldn’t look out of place riding the second-favourite at Randwick; Manenti fills out his father’s old front-row Rugby jerseys. Manenti bats almost well enough to be called an all-rounder; Malone is a terrific bowler. But at the moment, Manenti has 191 First Grade wickets and Malone (who claimed his 150th for University on Sunday) has 186, so the odds are that some time in the new few weeks, one of them will become the youngest bowler to collect 200 First Grade wickets since…. Kerry O’Keeffe, who got there in December 1969, only 11 days after his 20th birthday. The good news for Malone is that he’s a few months younger than Manenti, so even if the Sydney spinner gets to 200 first, Malone can still get there younger.
Suffan Hassan had a breakthrough
Suffan Hassan has been around for a while now, having played for Wests and Randwick-Petersham before joining Sydney, occasionally making a handy contribution in Firsts, but mostly churning out runs in Second Grade. Predictably, he started this season in Seconds for the Tigers, where his unbeaten 85 saved his side from an early collapse. Liam Scott’s move to Adelaide has opened up a top-order spot in Sydney’s two-day side, and Hassan was promoted to fill it. He didn’t miss his opportunity, batting for more than four hours against Parramatta to hit 101, his first century in the top grade. Sydney batted on after passing Parramatta, giving Ryan Felsch time to hammer 98 from only 71 balls, with seven 6s. Sydney’s lineup is full of players who can keep the scoreboard moving - Hassan may have found a new niche as the more steady player who keeps them company.
Every dibbly-dobbler has his day
There’s a particular class of bowler who seldom gets the opportunity to play at the higher levels of the game, for no better reason than that they don’t quite fit the mould. Selection theory has it that, ideally, seam bowlers should all be like Glenn McGrath - seven feet tall, banging the ball in short of a length just outside off stump at something over 135 kilometers an hour. This theory still prevails even though Trent Copeland - who’s tall, yes, but insists on bowling full-length outswingers at a relatively gentle pace - has been the most reliable bowler in the State side for some years now. And Copeland’s home ground, Hurstville Oval, proved a happy hunting ground for gentle medium-pacers in Round Two. There was a masterclass by Tony Clark, who may be a 51 year old pie-chucker, but chucks pies that all land somewhere near off stump and move around disconcertingly. He already had more than 1000 Premier Cricket wickets before adding 6-20 and 3-40 against St George’s Seconds. Bankstown galloped to a first-innings lead, and then dismissed St George for 141 the second time round, only to collapse for 66 in the chase. The “reverse outright” was the work of Jono Craig-Dobson, who followed his tidy 3-37 with 6-24. Craig-Dobson does much the same sort of thing as Clark, although he’s significantly younger. After a few seasons in Seconds at Sydney University, he switched clubs last season, and has been a handy acquisition for St George - in Seconds. He now has nearly 100 Second Grade wickets to his name, but has never made a start in Firsts. He probably won’t ever fit the mould but, unless Hurstville Oval flattens out a bit, he could be worth a try.