February & March Wrap

Men's 1st Grade

Nic Bills

Round 14 v UNSW

A wet and soggy start to our match against UNSW saw a delayed start and quite a unique boundary shape to maximise the amount of playing time. We were sent in on a slowish wicket and, after a solid start, lost a few wickets in a clump right before lunch to be 4-62 and then 6-81 before Olly Knight and Nihal Desai led the rescue mission from the bottom of the order. Knight was at his fence-clearing best, doing so 5 times on his way to 57, while Nihal showed he has the power game to match his skills, scoring 56* off 48 balls to get us to a defendable 207 at the close of the innings. At the close of day 1, UNSW were 1-30 with the game in the balance.

Day 2 started well with JC taking an early wicket, but that was as close as we got to being in front of the game as a solid middle-order partnership from UNSW got them across the line 3 wickets down. While the scorecard doesn't reflect it, our bowlers did a great job restricting the UNSW batters and taking the chase to 70 overs.

Round 15 v Randwick-Petersham

Another delayed start, this time due to an underprepared wicket, saw the match finally kick off at 2pm. Unfortunately, Mac couldn't flip the coin well enough, losing the toss, and our batters were tasked with getting through the first afternoon on a difficult wicket. That afternoon, the Randy-Petes bowlers were just too good, bowling us out for 127 at the close of play.

Day 2 saw an unbelievable performance from our young bowling attack, led by the youngest of them all, Addison Sherriff, taking 7-32 in a remarkable spell of bowling. 9-113, the game was tilted our way, but Randwick skipper Riley Ayre was the difference with an unbeaten 49 and a well-managed innings with the tail to get them across the line, 9 down. Randwick asked us to bat again, and we finished the day 7-190 with a maiden fifty for James Moore at the top of the innings, which will hopefully be the first of many. Skipper Mac Jenkins finished the day unbeaten on 68 when the match was called.

Round 16 v Northern District

Our final match of the year saw us take on Northern District at North Sydney Oval. Fergus Fergusson made his debut, becoming the 698th person to play first grade at the Bears, and the ninth debut this season. Norths won the toss and decided to have a bowl first, and after an early wicket, Sherriff had NDs at 1-6. When the fourth wicket fell, NDs were 4-111, and the match was well and truly in the balance. A few overs later, Ferg took his first wicket with an excellent short ball to have NDs 5-137, but from there, the NDs batters took complete control of the game, eventually declaring on the morning of day 2 7d-364, leaving about 100 overs to chase the runs.

After a steady start with the bat and being 2-86 just after lunch, an unfortunately all too familiar flurry of wickets through the middle saw us at 7-109 with a fair bit of work to do to get the game back on track. Callum Hill and debutant Fergusson wrestled back some momentum with a solid 59-run partnership to put some respectability back into the scorecard before we were bowled out for 169, with Hill finishing 44*. NDs needed an outright win to jump back into second place on the ladder (Manly's outright win had seen them jump NDs on the ladder), so we were sent back into bat. After a concussion to Tim Reynolds in the first innings, Cal went back up to open the innings and continued where he left off, scoring 26 off 21 to start our innings before a stumble in the middle order saw us at 4-42 with a lot of work to do, to keep the outright loss at bay. That brought Jimmy Greenslade and debutant Jordan Netto (who replaced Tim Reynolds as a concussion cub), who became the 699th player to play first grade for the Bears, to the crease. Netto scored a superb 35 off 42 balls, while Jimmy did his best Rahul Dravid impersonation and remained 31* off 140 balls to save the outright loss (with a bit of help from the Sunset Cinema), managing a few solid partnerships with the tail.

While not the season we had hoped for at the beginning of the year, the club and first-grade group have plenty to look forward to in the coming years. With a lower average age for players throughout first grade this season than in the few previous, plus far less experience (in terms of first-grade matches played), including 10 debutants throughout the season, the Bears managed to beat 3 sides within the top 8 clubs this year and there were several standout performances from our younger players. This, combined with the PG's win, should give all players and supporters confidence that sustained success is just around the corner!!

Men's 2nd Grade 

James Aitken

Round 14 - UNSW

In a highly anticipated Blacktown International Sports Park No. 2 clash, North Sydney faced off against the University of New South Wales in their Round 14 Second Grade match. The wicket promised runs aplenty, with its hard and flat surface favouring the batsmen.

Winning the toss, University of New South Wales elected to bat first, looking to set a challenging total for North Sydney to chase down. However, North Sydney boasted a formidable bowling line-up featuring five fast bowlers and two spinners.

The game started with intensity as Hamish Reynolds struck early, claiming the edge of the UNSW opener and following it up with another breakthrough caught behind. UNSW showed resilience, building a partnership and reaching 114 runs for the loss of two wickets.

However, North Sydney hit back hard, with Harry Gardner breaking through the defences of UNSW's number 4 and Will Graham snatching two quick wickets in the subsequent over, leaving UNSW struggling at 5/114.

As the day progressed, the wicket flattened out, making batting easier and wickets harder to come by. Despite Gardner's relentless effort with figures of 3/70 from an unbroken spell of 28 overs and Graham's impressive performance of 3/41 from his 15 overs, UNSW managed to crawl to a total of 9/271, which seemed below par given the favourable batting conditions.

With hopes high, North Sydney returned the following week, eager to chase down the achievable target set by UNSW. However, nature had different plans, as a storm cell unleashed a deluge of rain on the uncovered pitch the evening before, turning it into a quagmire.

Despite enduring hours of patient waiting, the sodden surface refused to dry up, dashing any hopes of a result and leaving both teams dissatisfied as the match ended in a frustrating draw.

While North Sydney's bowling unit displayed commendable effort and skill, the unexpected weather conditions ultimately thwarted their chances of securing a victory, resulting in a disappointing outcome and cruelling chances of a run to the finals.

Round 15 - Randwick Petersham

In a thrilling encounter at Coogee Oval, North Sydney clashed with Randwick Petersham in a one-day second-grade match. The wicket appeared promising for batting, but North Sydney decided to bowl first after winning the toss.

The game began with a bang for North Sydney as their pace attack wreaked havoc on Randwick Petersham's top order. Will Graham drew first blood with an LBW in the opening over, followed by Nuwan Whyte claiming a wicket in the fourth. Will Graham struck again in the seventh over, leaving Randwick Petersham in disarray on 3/18.

Despite the early setback, Randwick Petersham's top order fought back, forming a partnership and taking the score to 62. However, debutant James Edwards broke the resistance, taking a crucial wicket with his nagging length securing an edge to the keeper. Edwards bowled with precision and patience, returning the most economical figures of the day, conceding just 23 runs off his 10 overs.

Harry Gardner continued his impressive form with his off-spin, tightening the screws on Randwick Petersham's batting line-up and claiming three vital wickets for 37 runs from his full quota of 10 overs. Randwick Petersham managed to limp to a below-par total of 7/209 from their allotted 50 overs, leaving North Sydney confident about their chase.

North Sydney commenced their innings after the luncheon interval, but a rocky start saw both openers departing within balls of each other, leaving the chase in a precarious position at 2/5. However, Dylan Mares (49) and Harry Lee Young (91) joined forces to stabilise the innings, forming a crucial hundred-run partnership that put North Sydney back on track at 2/113.

Mares' dismissal after misjudging their spinner and being stumped brought James Aitken to the crease, who supported Harry's charge towards his century. With the score advancing to 171 and only 39 runs needed from the last 11 overs, the dismissal of both set batsmen brought a slight twist in the tale. The nervous men from North Sydney watched their lower middle order edging towards the total as the balls remaining ebbed away. With two overs to go, North Sydney still needed 9 runs for the win. In the 49th over, the visitors lost a wicket early, but a cover drive from Will Graham (4 not out) brought up a well-run 3 to ease tensions.

Thankfully, the composed presence of Jamieson Hedges (20 not out) guided North Sydney towards victory. Requiring three runs to win from the final over, despite some heart-stopping moments, a well-placed boundary over the off-side field secured the win with a ball to spare, capping off a remarkable comeback for North Sydney and sparking jubilant scenes from the assembled spectators.

In the end, North Sydney's balanced performance with both bat and ball ensured a hard-fought victory over Randwick Petersham in an enthralling encounter at Coogee Oval. It gave them confidence going into the final round of the season.

Round 16 - Northern District

In the year's final round, North Sydney faced off against Northern District in a Second-Grade two-day match at Asquith Oval. With North Sydney out of contention for the finals and NDs assured of a place, the focus for the visitors was on ending the season on a positive note. The wicket appeared flat and offered little assistance to the bowlers, resembling the nearby Pacific Highway.

Despite showery conditions forecasted for the first day, both teams were eager to maximise play. Northern Districts won the toss and opted to bat first. The decision seemed justified as the wicket proved easy to bat on, with anything short of a length presenting an opportunity for the batsmen to dispatch.

North Sydney's opening bowler, Will Graham, continued his knack for striking early, dismissing the Northern District opener LBW after several seemingly plumb appeals had been turned down, leaving them at 1/11. As the batsmen settled in and showers intermittently interrupted play, an early lunch break was taken with NDs at 1/91 off 22 overs.

After lunch, the conditions deteriorated, and only four more overs were possible before play was halted due to safety concerns. Northern District ended the day at 1/102 off 26.2 overs, setting the stage for an intriguing second day.

The following week dawned with perfect conditions, clear skies, and a flat track, NDs batted patiently and methodically, amassing 303 runs for the loss of 6 wickets, declaring their innings after 83 overs. Will Graham (2/59) and Harry Gardner (2/68) were the pick of the North Sydney bowlers.

Facing a daunting run chase of 304 from 63 overs, North Sydney aggressively began their innings, with Finn Nixon-Tomko (16) and Ollie Sykes laying a solid foundation. Sykes, in particular, showcased his batting prowess, smashing 75 runs off just 61 balls, including six boundaries and five sixes.

However, after the departure of both openers with a score of 92, North Sydney faced a collapse, finding themselves at 6/121 and staring defeat in the face. Resolute batting from James Aitken (36 not out) and Harry Gardner (16 not out) ensured that Northern Districts' hopes of a win were dashed, as North Sydney held on for a determined draw, finishing at 6/163 at the close of play.

Despite facing a daunting run chase, North Sydney's fighting spirit and determined batting effort salvaged a draw against Northern Districts in the season's final round, providing a positive end to their campaign.

Women's 2nd Grade

Harry Mavros

Round 16 - Penrith

We travel to Penrith, knowing we must keep winning to keep our hopes alive. Penrith put us in to bat on a wicket-keeping low, and it paid dividends for them as we sank to 4 for 34. With things looking grim, an assured and mature 71 off 115 balls (5 boundaries) from opener Shiloh Julien leads us to a defendable total of 168. Keeper Kayla Robson offers excellent support, batting with discipline to score a crucial 34 runs. Penrith makes heavy weather of the chase, losing wickets at regular intervals and failing to attack our accurate bowling. We bowl them out for 143 and live to fight another day.

Round 17 - Northern District

We return to our beloved North Sydney Oval, hosting a powerful NDs side. To make matters even more challenging, results from other games have gone against us, and we are now in must-win territory for the remainder of the season. We win the toss and bowl, but NDs get a solid start. The game changes when Alex Mavros and Sophia Mavros take three quick wickets to have NDs on the back foot at 4 for 61. NDs fight hard to post a respectable total and are bowled out for 164 in the 45th over. Young in-swing bowler Lavena Rampal bowls beautifully to collect 2 wickets, but the pick of the bowlers is Alex Mavros with 3 for 10 off 7 overs. Our chase gets away to a poor start, with both openers out for 1 run each and the score at 2 for 2. From there, Shiloh Julien and Sophia Mavros set about repairing the innings, batting with grit and patience to take the game deep. Soon after the 30-over mark, both batters' pull the trigger' and demolish the NDs' attack, with Shiloh making 62 and Sophia ending up with 82* in a perfectly paced innings. Thanks to a late cameo from Alex Mavros, we overtake their total with one ball remaining in the 40th over, thus securing a bonus point in a clinical batting performance.

Round 18 - Gordon

Our biggest challenge of the season is another do-or-die game against a Gordon side full of representative players. We win the toss and invite them to bat at the' dog park' (Killara Oval). Gordon gets away to a cautious start, getting to 50 without loss and clearly looking to accelerate deeper into their innings. Their plans go awry when their top four are all returned to the pavilion in the space of 11 runs, thanks to some terrific bowling from our quicks and a well-executed run-out. From there, Gordon limped along to be bowled out for 124 in 43.1 overs. Sophia Mavros collects another 3 poles, Emily Aitken snares 2 for 26 in an excellent spell of mystery spin, and young speedster Aurora Mavros bowls beautifully to only concede 8 runs off the bat in her 9 overs. After another shaky start sees us 2 down for 10 runs, Sophia Mavros and Eva Jenns drop the anchor and attempt to remove Gordon's one hope of winning the game, which is to bowl us out. With plenty still to do when the skipper is removed at 4 for 56, Alex Mavros and Aurora Mavros put on an unbeaten 69-run partnership to send Gordon home with three overs to spare. Alex ends up 50* (including 3 boundaries and a towering six that sent the ball over the pickets and the road). Aurora shows maturity beyond her years to remain unbeaten at 35. A crushing win over fancied opposition secures our place in the semi-finals in our inaugural year and signals to the rest of the competition that we are a force to be feared.

Semi-Final - Sydney

Flush with self-belief, we arrive at Birchgrove to discover the pitch in a spongy, unplayable state. Whoever has to bat first on this track would be facing almost insurmountable odds. After delaying the toss for an hour, the umpires press ahead with a start, and we lose the worst toss to lose all season and are, of course, sent into bat. After two overs of trampolining bounce, the umpires halt proceedings due to safety concerns and schedule a restart after a further hour's delay. With the game reduced to 41 overs, we are again in deep trouble at 2 wickets for 7 in the 9th over. After another gritty dig by captain Sophia Mavros, Shiloh Julien (62 off 125 balls) and Alex Mavros (39* off 49 balls) battle to a total of 133, a trifling total in most games but a terrific effort given the dismal condition of the pitch.

Needing something special with the ball to rattle a confident Sydney line-up, opening quick Alex Mavros tears into the top order, removing their opener for a quacker in the first over (with the help of a spectacular infield diving catch from skipper Sophia Mavros), and then bowls the perfect ball to flick the top of off stump, sending their No. 3 back with another duck. Sydney is in real trouble at 4 for 27 after their remaining opener is dismissed, but Keating and Hodge put on 55 runs to have us worried before Alex Mavros returns to take two wickets in two balls, the game swinging back our favour at 6 for 82. However, with 4 overs to be bowled, 16 runs to get, and 3 wickets remaining, Sydney is in a winnable position when Eva Jenns is handed the ball. In an over to remember, she dismisses Metry with her first ball and after only conceding 1 run, clean bowls Sureshkumar four balls later. Nine wickets down, and with her heart no doubt leaping in her chest, the Sydney No. 11 is no match for Eva, who removes her for a golden, and the game is ours!!! Jubilation is the order of the day, as players and coaches realise that we have achieved the unthinkable...beating the powerhouse Sydney team after losing the toss on a stinker of a wicket and forcing our way to the Big Show!!!

Grand Final - Gordon

We come to Chatswood to meet a Gordon team seeking revenge after we beat them a fortnight back. But there is something different about the two teams meeting today. Gordon is a team that now fears us and our bowling strike power, and we don't just believe but know that we can win from any position. We win the toss and put them in, and it is immediately apparent that they have come prepared with a new game plan. Taking quick infield singles and slashing hard at width, the Gordon openers roll the dice in an attempt to rattle us. It works initially, as they score at 5 runs per over for the first 5 overs. But then, Aurora Mavros jags one back off the seam to trap Bhanage in front, Eva Jenns tempts run-machine Callaghan into spooning up an easy catch, and Aurora Mavros knicks off their big-hitter Mitchell caught-behind to have Gordon reeling at 3 for 39. When Sophia Mavros spins a couple of absolute peaches past Salmon and Johnston, and Emily Aitken has Moriarty caught at slip to a lovely catch from Kayla Robson, Gordon are just about done at 6 for 54.

But finals have a funny way of exploding expectations. Gordon keeper Kotibhaskar combines with Yates to put on a determined 65-run partnership that threatens to push Gordon's score well above the 150 mark. With the score at 119, Kotibhaskar looks to hit Sophia Mavros over the top. With the ball arcing high towards the boundary, mid-on fielder Aurora Mavros gives chase, turning and running at full sprint and finally taking a superb over-the-shoulder catch with extended arms. From that moment onwards, the Gordon batting innings is a spent force, with Emily Aitken and Alex Mavros cleaning up the 3 remaining wickets for only three additional runs. Gordon is bowled out for 122 in 39.1 overs, two runs less than their innings a fortnight prior. Another fantastic effort from our superb bowling unit!

Running true to the script for this season, we begin the chase poorly, losing 2 for 12 before skipper Sophia Mavros comes in to steady the ship with a defensive stand. When she goes with the score of 3 for 61 and half the score still to get, Alex Mavros again hurts Gordon with a half-century, taking us close before she is dismissed. Aurora Mavros again remains not out to steer the team to victory under enormous pressure, with the Bears knocking off the total in the 44th over. As the team sits in their circle on the grass, reflecting on achieving the best possible result for our first year back in 2nd Grade, all coaches and players could not be prouder of each other's efforts, passion and commitment. No one but ourselves believed we could do it, and that was all it took!

Men's 3rd Grade

Tom Cole and Robin Broom

Round 14 – UNSW

The Bears make their way to Cahil Park; upon inspection, the wicket could barely be differentiated from the rest of the square, and the general consensus was that it would be a bowling day. Much to the delight of the Bears, skipper Whitaker won the toss and promptly elected to field. Opening the bowling, Cole and Fergusson put in reasonable effort; however, it was evident after Fergs' first ball received a tentative nudge from the opening batter that scoring runs wasn't UNSW's first priority. Eventually, Fergusson picked up the first Bears wicket, getting their opening batter out for 3 off 32. This brought Whitaker and Graham into the attack, both bowlers slowly chewing away at the opposition's batters' patience, causing Whitaker to pick up the second wicket and Graham to finish his spell with 0/12 off 12. After an (unprovided) tea, it seemed as though UNSW's batter realised that maybe setting the Bears 90 runs to get next week wasn't the best idea and finally started to show some intent. However, this would be their downfall as Vrushab Kumar and skipper Whitaker cleaned up the rest of the tail, finishing with 3 and 4 wickets, respectively. After both openers Dilraj Singh and Jack Feilen successfully battled through a tricky five-over period at the end of the day's play, the Bears left Cahill Park confident that they could chase the 177-run total that UNSW had set for them. However, as Dilraj played forward to the first ball of the new day, which skimmed his grill, the boys knew it would be a tricky chase. After 4 quick wickets, both Hedges (40) and Johnson (20) battled it out on an increasingly tricky pitch which was deemed by the umpires to be “unfortunate” but not unsafe. After Hedges and Johnson were removed, UNSW quickly ran through the Bears’ tail, bowling us out for 117. It was frustrating end to a frustrating match.

Round 16 - Northern District

Heading into the week, the boys knew it was do-or-die time, with us needing a win to maintain our place in the top 6 and NDs only needing a draw to maintain their place. The weather gods were not kind in week 1, but with Whits winning his first toss of the season, we put NDs into bat on what looked like a soft green wicket. However, our euphoria quickly turned as there was a constant drizzle from the start of play for the next two hours. During this time, our bowlers struggled to maintain their lines and lengths with an increasingly slippery ball and pitch; NDs managed to rack up 90 runs for the loss of one wicket before the umpires called the game due to the conditions.

We returned in week 2 with renewed optimism, better weather, and 120 overs to get a result. Once again, this optimism was short-lived as NDs built on their strong start, batted us out of the game and finally declared on 7-378. The pick of the bowlers was “Baz” Baran Kumar, who summoned all that his hamstrings could give to bowl a fiery spell, taking 3 for 38.

Given that ND had “generously” given us 54 overs to chase 378, we decided to go for the draw, hoping some results went our way or, at the very least, NDs would finish 6th, meaning they would have to try and stop the freight train of Sydney Uni. As expected, due to the lack of creativity of most cricketers, the ND’s sledges of “Oh, are you really going for the draw?” began early. What else began was the longest 54 overs in cricket history and ended in heartbreaking circumstances. Little did we know that we would be out there for 5 hours and ending the game at 7pm. There were certain other peculiar things to occur during that innings that did not improve our chances of gaining a point, including the loss of one of our key players due to a concussion sub to 1s who were trying to avoid an outright and hold on long enough until the Sunset Cinema. Special thanks to Naman for coming up from 5s to give us a hand, and I am sure it was the first of many 3s games he will play.

Despite this, there was staunch resistance provided by the boys at various parts, but without doubt, the players that showed the most grit were Dylan Johnson (51), Max Clark (37), Whits (33), and Tom Cole (8 but faced many a ball at the end). At the end of the 5 hours, it all came down to the last over, where we had 2 wickets in hand. Tommy Cole, who had faced many balls and looking very comfortable, hit one in front of the square, thinking about a single, only to look up and see a finger raised for LBW; this same finger was raised again the very next ball in similar yet slightly less surprising circumstances. Euphoria for NDs as they avoided playing Uni, and despair for the Bears as the grit showed was for naught.

The frustrations of the game we love have many of us consider our cricketing futures in the following weeks, but invariably, our minds play tricks on us, and we forget the heartbreak and pain and promptly turn up for pre-season with our hopes renewed. We cricketers are a strange breed indeed!

Women's 3rd Grade

Bernadette Robson

Round 15 - Manly

Manly asserted their dominance at home, outclassing our third grade Bears. Despite the team's resilience, Manly's strong batting set the tone early, securing a commanding lead. The Bears struggled to capitalize on their bowling efforts, while their batting faltered against Manly's relentless attack. Manly's batters dominated, putting us under pressure from the start. Despite solid spells from our bowlers, including Anushka (1/23), Emily (1/31), and Abi (2/18), Manly's relentless batting display led to a formidable total. With catches and runouts, the Bears’ fielding efforts showcased determination but couldn't halt Manly's momentum.

We faced an uphill battle chasing Manly's total. Amy's 24 and Bernie's 13 provided resistance, but with five ducks, we struggled. Despite the inevitable defeat, Violet and Chloe's resilience frustrated Manly in the final overs, showing UTS NS's fighting spirit. Manly's home advantage secured the victory, while the Bears’ efforts showcased the potential for future matches.

Despite the loss, the Bears were able draw positives and aimed to bounce back in upcoming games.

Round 16 - St George-Sutherland

The Bears faced St George at home, aiming for a victory against a formidable opponent. Opting to field first, our bowlers contained St George with disciplined performances. However, chasing 116, facing early setbacks as St George's bowlers struck. With a valiant effort, led by Kayla's impressive 95*, the Bears secured a crucial win, claiming vital bonus points.

The Bears’ bowlers, spearheaded by Anushka (3/28), Anjali (2/18), India (1/9), Emily (1/9), and Bella (1/9) kept St George in check. Charlotte and Bernie's catches added to the pressure on St George's batting lineup.

Facing a modest target, the Bears encountered early hurdles against St George's bowlers and ended with 4 ducks in the lineup. However, Kayla's stellar innings of 95*, Anushka's supporting role with 15 runs and Chloe Blackwell whose 21-ball duck in a final-wicket partnership of 45, proved crucial in steering Bears towards victory, securing essential bonus points in the process.

The Bears' disciplined bowling restricted St George's scoring opportunities. Despite facing early challenges, the Bears showcased resilience and determination, clinching a vital win against St George. The team's all-round effort, marked by disciplined bowling and standout batting, underscores their potential for success as the season progresses.

Round 17 - Sydney

Playing at home, the Bears showcased a strong batting display, posting a commanding total of 167 runs.

Bernie's retirement at 50, along with contributions from Kayla, Sadaf, and Charlotte fueled the team's innings. Notably, the match witnessed the Bears' first Mankad incident, adding a controversial moment. In response, The Bears bowling unit dominated, with notable performances from Violet, Sadaf, Abi, Anjali, Charlotte, and Bella, restricting Sydney to a mere 65 runs.

Exceptional bowling and sharp fielding by the Bears, highlighted by Violet's maiden wicket and multiple catches by Amy, Kayla, Toni, and Bella, ensured a comprehensive victory.

The Bears’ comprehensive performance, with the bat and the ball, secured a convincing win over Sydney. The team's collective effort, backed by standout individual contributions, reaffirms their competitive edge as they continue their campaign in the tournament.

Round 18 - Bankstown

In the season's final round, the Bears faced Bankstown in a pivotal matchup. The return of Sarah from injury added to the anticipation, and her immediate impact with a catch marked a triumphant comeback.

Sadaf's exceptional bowling stood out, conceding a mere 3 runs off 6 overs, setting the tone for UTS North Sydney's bowling performance. Kayla spearheaded the attack with 2/7, while Emily, Anjali, and Abi provided valuable support. The match also witnessed standout fielding moments, including an exceptional throw from Kayla.

The Bears' batting lineup displayed solidity, with significant contributions from Amy, Kayla, and Emily. Their collective efforts ensured a solid total, securing a crucial win to conclude the season.

The third grade Bears wrapped up the regular season on a high note with a crucial victory over Bankstown. Despite finishing 4th on the ladder by the narrowest of margins, the team's resilience and determination were evident throughout the match. The return of Sarah and standout performances from Sadaf, Amy, Kayla, and Emily underscored the team's potential and bodes well for future campaigns.

Semi-Final - Manly

In an electrifying showdown at Balgowlah Oval, the Bears faced off against table-toppers Manly in a clash that kept spectators on the edge of their seats. Fielding first, the Bears were determined to contain Manly after their previous encounter. Bella, Anjali, and Abi led the charge with the ball, snatching crucial wickets to keep Manly's score below the century mark. Bernie and Amy showcased brilliance in the field, while a remarkable runout by Charlotte and Anu added to the intensity of the contest.

Bella's stellar bowling performance, bagging 3 crucial wickets, set the tone for the Bears' spirited display. Anjali and Abi's contributions, with 2 wickets each, added pressure on the formidable Manly batting lineup. Bernie and Amy's safe hands and Charlotte and Anu's fielding heroics kept the competition tight and exhilarating.

Despite a valiant effort, the Bears faced an uphill battle in the chase, with every duck imaginable piling pressure on the team. A duck of every description. However, Amy's resilience in batting, scoring a commendable 26, nearly propelled the Bears towards victory in a thrilling climax. Despite the Bears falling short in their chase; the match exemplified their fighting spirit and resilience throughout the season. Despite the result, the team's incredible performance and unwavering determination have left a lasting impression, setting the stage for an even more thrilling campaign in the future.

Men's 4th Grade

Alex Perry

The final three rounds for the Bears were shaping into tight contests, with fellow middle-of-the-table runners UNSW and Randwick Petersham back-to-back and finishing up with 2nd-place Northern District.

First up was UNSW in a 2-day match at Tunks International Sports Park. With a little bit in the deck early, the Bears bowled first, looking to get ahead of the game, and they struck early through Henry Lester. Newcomer Jack Atkinson was also impressive with the new ball in his second match for the club but toiled all day for no wickets and was miserly at less than 2 an over. His pressure from one end allowed the other bowlers to pick up wickets, with Merlehan, Sriram, and Sharma all picking up two each. With consistent starts and partnerships throughout the day, UNSW posted a competitive score of 217. Merlehan and Omar saw out the day at the top of the order, shaving off 10 runs from the target.

On day 2, Merlehan and Omar continued where they left off before Omar was dismissed; a couple of quick wickets followed, and the Bears were 3-55 in response. Thomas and Perry knuckled down and saw the side to tea, taking the total past 100 in the process, taking most of the life out of the game. Thomas fell shortly after, and Perry another 20 runs after that, leaving Broom and Davis 77 to get for a well-earnt victory, and the two obliged, Broom clobbering the attack to all parts for a near run, a ball 67 and Davis maturely icing the game with 26 red. The Bears passed the total 6 down with an hour's play left in the day.

Next up was Randwick Petersham at Petersham Oval, and North Sydney great Sam Alexander's celebrity appearance was more than welcomed by the side. In his final game for the club, his charisma instantly lifted the energy on the field and in the dressing rooms. The side took this in their stride while being sent in on a gloomy day after plenty of rain; Dilraj Singh and Aiden Thomas put the side in a commanding position early, counterattack at 2-19 and taking it to the Randwick seamers. The pair put on 72 before Singh was dismissed, and Thomas continued to pile on the runs, taking the Bears to 181 before he was bowled. He wanted to increase the rate to 72, a class inning showing what he could do and more. Davis aptly supported him, who made an unbeaten 58 at almost a run a ball, running hard and cashing in on some short-pitched bowling. Omar also played a handy cameo of 31 red, with some innovative shots. The side ended their allotment at 5-237, a substantial total which will be stiff to chase down.

Randwick came out swinging, looking to take advantage of field restrictions and get ahead of the run rate; however, although a few shots came off, Atkinson made short work of this, taking 4 wickets early, breaking the game open. At the other end, Lester matched his energy, also picking up 2 early to have the hosts reeling at 6-71. The man of the moment, Sam Alexander, came into the attack and picked up two wickets quickly to seal the game, with Sharma finishing off the last two poles. A bonus point victory and a fitting send-off for one of the club's great veterans, you will be missed, brother.

In the final round of the season, it was a local clash with rivals Northern District. With the opponents ranking second, the Bears were treating this as a grand final and looked to put together a complete performance.

Unpredictable weather rained on the parade; after winning the toss and batting, the pitch became extremely difficult to bat on, the umpires choosing to play through the rain despite batters and bowlers slipping. This caused all sorts of issues for the Bears’ top order; the shining light was Singh with another comprehensive 48; however, they couldn't go on. The rain halted play for the day, with common sense prevailing and we returned for 120 overs of play the following week.

A few early wickets on day two put the Bears behind the game. Still, Davis and Lester gritted out the morning session. Davis was a defiant 50 off 142, continuing his strong end to the season, while Lester refused to be dismissed, supporting well with 20 off 105. The Bears were bundled out for 162 just before lunch, giving the hosts roughly 80 overs to chase the total.

The Bears struck early and could've had more if close decisions had been given and catches had been held, but in the end, the home side showed why they were in second place, making light work of the total and finishing up with plenty of time in the day.

All in all, a 10th-place finish for the Bears, and a season of what could have been; too many dropped points in crucial situations meant missing out on a finals spot; however, plenty of learning to take into the off-season and prepare for the next year.

Men's 5th Grade

Pat Lindsay

Round 14 - UNSW

5s travelled to the peculiar Alexandria Park with its odd shape, tiny boundary and trees in the outfield to take on UNSW. There was a bit of weather around on Friday evening / Saturday morning and it was with a degree of trepidation that the boys watched the covers get pulled back. What was revealed was a slightly tacky but very presentable wicket.

The Bears won the toss and bowled and Angus Miller (2/26) got 2 early breakthroughs including the dangerous Khairnar for 8. UNSW consolidated to 2-81 before Ravi Adabala struck, removing the set opener. This triggered a collapse with UNSW slumping to 7-101 with Ravi the destroyer eventually taking 5-28 off 17. The UNSW tail wagged a little but the Bears were satisfied dismissing the Bees for 153 in the 57th over.

The Bears’ chase was an ordeal to say the least. We stumbled in the last session of day 1 to 4-28 before Kaustav Karan (44) and Ravi Adabala (24) steadied the ship to 4-70 at the close of play. On day 2, Ravi and Kaustav were dismissed in quick succession and the Bears were in trouble again at 6-101, however, some patient rearguard batting from Vohra (16), Lindsay (17) and Sahni (24) saw the Bears take first innings points 8 down. Sahni, debutant Sakkarwal (23*) and Miller (10) then accelerated and the Bears declared at tea 9-197 with a lead of 44.

Having burnt some overs toiling hard to get first innings points, the Bears knew they had to strike quickly to have any chance of the outright result. Dhruv Sakkarwal (3-17) on debut did just that and UNSW were in all sorts at 6-77 plus a man down due to injury. However, a combination of missed half-chances and resolute defence meant the Bears couldn’t bowl out the Bees and get the 10 points.

Round 15 – Randwick-Petersham

Round 15 saw 5s return to Tunks to play Randwick Petersham in a one-dayer. In overcast conditions, the Bears sent Randwick into bat and it was Randwick who got off to the better starting, moving to 0-43 before Sakkarwal struck first. Wickets then fell regularly with Vohra (4-40), Cole (2-27) and Lindsay (2-16) the pick of the bowlers.

The Bears needed 139 off 48 overs for victory. The chase sputtered along with 5s rarely looking in control. Kaustav Karan looked the most fluent for his 35 before he was comically run out. With his dismissal at 5-83 chances of winning with the bonus point evaporated. Eventually Lindsay and Vohra saw the side home in the last over, 8 down.

Round 16 – Northern District

5s knew an outright result was likely needed to qualify for finals with St George a good chance to get 10 points vs bottom ranked Hawkesbury. This would see them jump the Bears if we could only take 6 points vs Northern District.

The Bears won the toss (again) and elected to field (again). In favourable bowling conditions, we were on top with NDs 4-48 with Cole and Lindsay taking two poles eac. At this point, persistent drizzle wet the ground and the ball, letting NDs off the hook somewhat. Eventually it got strong enough for us to come off, 9 overs were lost and a ball change was permitted. Eesa Omar struck in the first over after the rain delay with NDs 5-71. From here NDs knuckled down and defended bravely to stumps finishing at 7-145.

Day 2 commenced under bright sunlight and Matt Cole had the old ball talking, taking a wicket in the first over. Shiv Vohra wrapped the tail up and NDs were bundled out for 162, after batting on for a further 11 overs.

Naman Batish (50) and Krishna Vanapamula (90) exploded out of the blocks with an entertaining opening partnership. Both players took the game on and played with confidence and quickly took the game out of NDs’ reach. Naman was dismissed with the score on 107, but Krishna carried on in his best innings of the season. He was eventually given out to a questionable caught behind decision, 10 short of his hundred but for his highest score in Bears colours.

The Bears passed NDs in 37 overs in a dominant display. With 29 overs left, we re-inserted NDs in a Hail Mary attempt at 10 points. However, the game was quickly called with 6 points going the way of 5s.

Sadly St George got 10 points and Sydney Uni also won, meaning the Bears missed out on finals by jsyt one point. We can look back on a solid season, but we ultimately needed to get 10 points vs UNSW or a bonus point vs Randwick to make the top 6.

Poidevin-Gray Shield

Jamieson Hedges

After a long wait from their semi-final victory over Randy-Petes, the young Bears' side met a strong Northern Districts side, fresh off a first-grade LO premiership.

The Bears lost the toss on a flat-looking deck at Allan Border Oval and were asked to field first. The Bears got off to a good start thanks to Sherriff's great building of pressure before Fergusson struck with a slight edge through to Moore. Despite the positive start, the Bears were still on edge as the opposing captain, Shaw, joined Tunks to build a robust first-wicket partnership. The pair looked comfortable on a pitch, providing less and less for pace bowling, forcing skipper Hedges to throw the ball to his spinners to earn back the momentum. The NDs batters tried to attack Desai and Oxenham, bringing about wickets as Desai beat Shaw through the air to have him stumped swiftly by Moore for 38. Soon after Desai took his second key wicket, a sharp caught and bowled to remove Miller, who was fresh off a first-grade century the day before.

Tunks and Crayn then came together to take momentum away from the Bears again, with boundaries beginning to flow. A change in the bowling finally brought on Harry Gardner, who waited no time to impact the game. Gardner took the wickets of both set batters in consecutive overs thanks to a series of sharp catches by Johnson before waiting no time to spin another through the gate of the new batsmen. With wickets having fallen quickly, the Bears restricted the run rate well into the final powerplay before 3 more wickets fell to Gardner as the ND's middle and lower order failed to clear the ropes in the dying overs. Gardner finished with a brilliant 6/26 (which later earned him the player of the match award) to restrict NDs to 196.

After finishing on the back of one Englishman, another stepped up to start the Bears run chase off brilliantly. Sykes took to NDs’ bowling attack, striking 11 boundaries in the opening session, including 3 maximums. The fast start gave the Bears significant momentum into the run chase; however, quick wickets of Sykes (60 of 42) and Moore soon after (20) brought NDs back into the fight. Netto joined Sherriff at the crease with 105 still left to win. The pair absorbed the pressure of the NDs' spinners and gradually began to take the game away from their opponents. Sherriff played the anchor role (32) as Netto (66) aggressively chased down the total, striking 4 sixes. The two comfortably brought home the match for North Sydney with 7 wickets in hand, ending the 39-year drought and giving the Bears their second-ever PGs victory.

Brewer Shield

Mark Williams

Round 14 - Sydney University

After last week's clash with top-of-the-table Greater Hunter Coast, the Bears ventured to Sydney Uni to take on the competition's cellar dwellers. With a top 2 placing still on the line, the focus was squarely on a double bonus point victory. Winning the toss and batting, the top order set about putting a big total on the board, with Sam Kuncham (24), Aurora Mavros (29), Sam Williams (14), and Isabel Selems (20*) all looking very comfortable out in the middle. However, the star of the batting innings was Sharon Julien, playing some sublime shots to all parts of the ground and etching her name in the UTS North Sydney record books as the first woman to score a century for the club in a standalone Bears side, finishing with a very impressive 107 from 158 balls. After 50 overs, the Bears had put on a very commanding 4/226.

Looking to bowl Sydney University out for under 113 to secure two bonus points, the Bears got off to a great start with Georgia MacDonald (1 for 11) picking up a wicket in her first over. After a brief period of resistance from Sydney Uni, Sam Kuncham (3 for 13) produced a piece of individual brilliance to remove three batters in three balls - two clean bowled and the hat-trick ball courtesy of a caught and bowled chance that saw Sam run halfway down the pitch, dive full stretch and grab a one-handed screamer low to the ground. The Bears players erupted in jubilation, with Sam taking only the second hat-trick in Bears women's history. From there, the rest of the bowlers took care of business, with wickets to Sam Williams (1 for 7), Isabel Selems (1 for 16), Varada Vinay (2 for 7), and Sharon Julien (2 for 7) to bowl Sydney University out for 73 in the 35th over. With the two bonus points secured and some other results going our way, a top 2 finish was guaranteed regardless of the result the following week.

Round 15 - Southern Swans

With a top 2 place already guaranteed, the trip down to Wollongong was more about keeping the momentum going leading into finals. Being asked to bat first was in line with the team's plans, but the Swans clearly knew something we needed to learn, as a tricky pitch made batting more challenging than expected. A couple of balls jagged in unexpectedly off the pitch to bowl a couple of our in-form batters, while others held up on the slowish pitch to present catching practice to the Swans fielders. Varada Vinay (20 off 66 balls) and Isabel Selems (18 off 50 balls) dug in to produce the team's highest partnership (35 runs), but when the 8th wicket fell for just 82, things were looking grim. However, the Bears weren't surrendering yet. Coming in at #9, Miki Jenkins (22* off 43 balls) produced a gem of an innings to add a hugely valuable 35 runs to the total in partnerships with Georgia MacDonald and Phoebe Hancock, steering the team to a low but defendable total of 117.

The team chat during the break was about using this predicament to practice what may be needed in an upcoming finals game. The Bears needed to bowl out the Swans quickly to win the game. Georgia MacDonald (2 for 11) got the Bears off to a great start with the first two wickets, and when Maddy Paynter (2 for 9) chipped in for the next two, the Bears could sniff an opportunity. As the old adage goes, "catches win matches", and today was another example of the Bears' improvement in this area with all 5 opportunities taken, including a couple of rippers by Phoebe Hancock at long-on looking into the sun and a one-handed diving catch by Sam Williams at short extra-cover. The Swans were rocked by the performance, and as the fielding circle tightened in on the tailenders, it was left to Varada Vinay (2 for 1) to put them out of their misery, all out for 62. A clinical bowling performance by the Bears provided much confidence for the finals series ahead.

Semi-Final - Greater Hunter Coast

After a week off as a reward for finishing second on the ladder, the Bears faced a strong Greater Hunter Coast team they had beaten recently in a high-quality contest. GHC won the toss and chose to bat but were under pressure early, with Georgia MacDonald (2 for 31) removing the opener's middle stump. This brought GHC's best batter to the crease, with the Bears knowing that her wicket would be crucial to the game's outcome. Try as they might, though, the Bears just could not quite get the breakthrough they were looking for, with bowlers, fielders, and spectators alike witnessing a batting masterclass that finished 123 runs later with Aurora Mavros (1 for 28) finally getting her prize wicket. Varada Vinay was the pick of the bowlers, with her off-spin always challenging the batters, finishing with figures of 3 for 37 off her 10 overs.

Chasing 261 for victory, openers Sam Kuncham (19 off 52 balls) and Sharon Julien (18 off 49 balls) started watchfully against some excellent bowling from the GHC openers. After the first 15 overs, the Bears found themselves at 1/32 and needed to lift the run rate to reach the total. While the run rate began to improve, the Bears found it challenging to break the shackles and, after 30 overs, were in trouble at 4/69. Ultimately, it was too big a task for the Bears to chase down, and despite a fighting (maiden) half-century from Sam Williams (52 off 75 balls), the Bears fell well short in the end, finishing at 9/133 off their 50 overs. Despite the loss, reaching the semi-finals for the second consecutive year despite fielding a very young team was a massive achievement for the Bears and one that the club should be very proud of.

Media courtesy of Tony Johnson, The Aitken family, Mark Williams, Adam Cavenor, Alise Croft, Myles Hannan and UTS North Sydney members.