January Wrap

Men's 1st Grade

Nic Bills

Round 11 v Eastern Suburbs

Returning after Christmas, the boys were refreshed and looking to turn around the last few results of 2023. We won the toss and batted first but found ourselves behind the 8-ball at 5-106 early in the game. Luckily, the young brigade in our middle order, Mac Jenkins (56) and Addy Sherriff (57), helped to steady the ship, with significant assistance from Harri Lee-Young (43) towards the back end of the innings. In the end, managing a more than competitive 241 to defend.

Knowing we had to be almost perfect in the field, Olly Knight started with a bang with the new ball, getting both openers cheaply, and with another wicket shortly to Lee-Young, we had Easts 3/56 off 15 overs and were well on top. Unfortunately, that was as close as we got to them, with an almost 200-run partnership from Baxter Holt and Will Simpson. What was pleasing from a Norths perspective was that we didn’t drop our lip or let chances slip through like in previous weeks; we bowled well and were just outplayed on the day.

Round 12 v Sydney

In what can only be described as a masterstroke or the most excellent game of 4D Chess ever played (will become apparent later), skipper Mac Jenkins won the toss and batted as we took another home game out to Blacktown, this time on the No.1 ground. Hamish Reynolds debuted, becoming the 697th player to play first grade for the Bears.

We found ourselves in trouble early but then the skipper posted a solid 44 before Addy Sherriff entered the arena, and with a few more wickets, we eventually found ourselves at 7/111. From there, with great help from the tail – Olly Knight and Everett Oxenham – Addy posted his maiden first-grade hundred and an incredibly mature innings for someone just 17 years of age. More than the runs he scored, the 163 balls he faced put the pressure back on Sydney and eventually took our total to 249.

With 17 overs to bowl on night one, we had Sydney 1/41, with Hamish taking his maiden first grade wicket, big brother Tim Reynolds taking the catch.

At this point, I can see why you think winning the toss and batting wasn’t a masterstroke. But we didn’t know then that Mac knew that the second Saturday of the match was wet and rainy and that water would get under the covers on Friday night to make batting look like a very different proposition in week 2. While we did have the elements on our side, our bowlers were excellent, with Mac and Olly combining for four wickets apiece. This was one of our most pleasing wins this year, fighting back from 7/111, week one and putting in a complete performance with the ball.

Round 13 v Sutherland

The second Saturday/Sunday game of the season saw us make the trip to Sutherland. Even with a change of captains, we maintained our strong form with the toss, but that was about as good as it got for the Bears across the weekend. Batting first, we were never in control of the game losing early wickets and not being able to withstand the pressure from the Sutherland bowlers, particularly former Sri Lanakan Test off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal who took 5/42, helping to bowl us out for 141.

Again, having to be almost inch perfect with the ball, we were able to take wickets early, but with not quite enough runs on the board, Sutherland was easily able to absorb our pressure before counterpunching at the back end of the innings to declare at 8-285, leaving us 57 overs to bat to save an outright defeat. We managed to save the game, but not before we made it incredibly difficult for ourselves before our middle to late order put up the wall. Tim Reynolds and Nihal Desai put on 42 for the ninth wicket and batted for about 15 overs when the game looked completely lost, but it was enough to stop the sharks from circling.

While not anywhere near our best two days of cricket, the fact we managed to not lose the match outright, when we probably deserved to showed the fighting spirit of the group, and something we can hopefully take into next round.

Men's 2nd Grade 

James & Rob Aitken

Round 11 v Eastern Suburbs

In a thrilling encounter marking the return to cricket action after the Christmas break, North Sydney clashed with Eastern Suburbs in a Second Grade showdown at the picturesque Waverley Oval. With anticipation high, Eastern Suburbs won the toss and elected to bat first, setting the stage for an intriguing battle under the sun-drenched skies.

The match kicked off in electrifying fashion as North Sydney's Will Graham made an immediate impact, dismissing the Eastern Suburbs opener with a spectacular LBW off the very first ball. The early breakthrough injected a surge of energy into North Sydney's camp, but Eastern Suburbs' top order responded with resilience and aggression, crafting a formidable 110-run partnership for the second wicket.

Despite Eastern Suburbs' strong start, North Sydney's spinners gradually seized control of the proceedings. Nihal Desai showcased his prowess with the ball, delivering a remarkable spell of 10 overs, which yielded two crucial wickets while conceding only 32 runs. The left-arm finger-spinning duo of Sam Alexander (1/40) and Dylan Mares (1/49) complemented Desai's performance, stifling Eastern Suburbs' run flow and curbing what seemed to be an impending onslaught.

Eastern Suburbs managed to post a competitive total of 244 runs for the loss of six wickets, a score that appeared daunting but achievable considering the conditions and the quality of the North Sydney batting lineup.

As North Sydney commenced their run chase, their openers set a solid foundation, with Finn Nixon-Tomko's composed 26 laying the groundwork. However, Ollie Sykes stole the spotlight with a breathtaking display of power-hitting against the Eastern Suburbs attack. Sykes unleashed a barrage of boundaries and towering sixes, dismantling the opposition bowlers with ruthless precision.

Sykes' scintillating innings saw him amass an astonishing 138 runs from just 98 deliveries (including 10 sixes and 9 boundaries), a masterclass in aggressive batting that left the Eastern Suburbs fielders in awe. His explosive innings single-handedly shifted the momentum in North Sydney's favour, propelling them towards the target with unwavering determination.

With Sykes leading the charge, North Sydney's middle order was able to capitalise on the momentum, swiftly knocking off the remaining runs to secure a commanding victory with nine overs to spare. The team's clinical performance showcased their depth, marking a triumphant return to action in the post-Christmas period and the second win on the trot. It left the team well poised in the middle of the competition table and eyeing a run at finals contention.

Round 12 v Sydney

In a riveting two-day encounter at Drummoyne Oval, UTS North Sydney took on Sydney DCC. Sydney faced a formidable challenge when asked to bat on a difficult wicket. Despite the openers enduring blows on the gloves and playing and missing numerous times, they reached lunch with just one wicket down.

Fergus Fergusson made the initial breakthrough for North Sydney, but Sydney's luck held, and they finished the day at 9 wickets for 344 runs. Will Graham emerged as the pick of the bowlers, claiming 4 wickets for 79 off 16 overs. Nihal Desai took 2 for 85 off 26, while Robbie Aitken was miserly with the ball, conceding only 41 runs in his 20 overs. Nuwan Whyte and Dylan Mares also chipped in with a wicket apiece.

Day 2 saw a less bowler-friendly wicket. The openers constructed a solid foundation, but persistent rainfall softened the pitch, causing a temporary halt in play. When the match resumed, scoring became challenging, and the run rate slowed. Finn Nixon-Tomko (61) and Dylan Mares (37) contributed significantly to the top order. James Aitken (24), Fergus Fergusson (42), and Nihal Desai (38) also added valuable runs.

Despite their collective efforts, the Bears fell short of the target. Nevertheless, both days showcased commendable performances with the bat and ball, illustrating the resilience and skill of the UTS North Sydney team.

Round 13 v Sutherland

In a thrilling one-day encounter between UTS North Sydney and Sutherland, North Sydney won the toss and opted to bowl. The decision proved fruitful as Will Graham claimed two early wickets, while Hamish Reynolds contributed with an early breakthrough.

Nuwan Whyte showcased his bowling prowess, securing regular middle-order wickets and finishing with an impressive 3 wickets for just 17 runs. His disciplined line and length troubled the opposition batsmen throughout the innings. Robbie Aitken was once again miserly, adding dot ball pressure.

Fergus Fergusson displayed excellent discipline with the ball, grabbing an early wicket and efficiently cleaning up the tail. Sutherland managed to post a total of 150 runs in their innings, setting up a possible bonus point run chase for UTS North Sydney.

The North Sydney batting innings started with an excellent partnership between Ollie Sykes and Finn Nixon-Tomko. Sykes showcased his aggressive intent, smashing 3 sixes and multiple fours on his way to a blistering 45 runs. Finn contributed with 33 runs, then combined with James Moore (32 runs) to edge closer to the target score.

In pursuing a bonus point, North Sydney sacrificed several late wickets. However, a crucial partnership between Will Graham and Hamish Reynolds ensured the team reached the required runs, securing a well-deserved victory for UTS North Sydney in an exciting contest.

Women's 2nd Grade

Harry Mavros

Round 13 v Bankstown

With our season on the line against Bankstown, we need an excellent start to our post-holiday cricket at Tunks Oval. Bowling first, we put the screws on Bankstown, only conceding 103 runs off the bat in their 50 overs. Pick of the bowlers are Alex Mavros (a miserly 2/14 off her 8 overs) and Sophia Mavros (2/21 off 10). Needing a modest 160 to win, our top order crumbles, and our push for the semis looks like it might be over at 5 for 38. Needing something special to keep our hopes alive, something special indeed arrives in the form of a match winning innings from Alex Mavros. Never looking the least bit troubled by either the bowling or the precarious situation, she plunders 78 off 77 balls (with 11 boundaries) to bring us home in the 34th over, securing a vital bonus point. Crucial support is offered by Kayla Robson (20) and Bernie Robson (10). A clutch win against good opposition to keep us in the race.

Round 14 v Campbelltown

Moving into a series of three games against opponents placed lower on the ladder, the focus becomes acquiring 2 bonus points at each game to move our way up the table. We start by bowling against a 9-person Campbelltown team at Raby. Our captain takes the opportunity to share the bowling around, with 9 bowlers rolling the arm over, including Miki Jenkins and Violet Crowe on debut. Campbelltown stumble to be all out for 73 runs, and pick of the bowlers is Alex Mavros (3/11 off 5). We promote some middle order batters to the top of the order to get some valuable time in the middle, and the runs are knocked off in 18 overs, securing the double bonus double points we came for. Opener Eva Jenns carries her bat for 24 off 47 balls.

Round 15 v Sydney University

We arrive at Marrickville Oval hungry for more bonus points, but also hoping for a bit of a challenge to test our skills. Unfortunately, Sydney Uni aren’t up to the task, batting first and being skittled for 46 in 20.4 overs. To be fair, a dodgy pitch and some generous umpiring decisions help our cause. With no time to bat for a big innings, the best we can hope for is that one of our top order will extract some confidence for future games. This is exactly what happens, as the returning from injury Shiloh Julien sets about scoring a breezy 22 n.o. from 32 balls, including 3 boundaries. Bonus points are secured for another week and we continue our march up the ladder.

Men's 3rd Grade

Harry Gardner, Jamieson Hedges, Tom Cole

Round 11 v Eastern Suburbs

Welcome, welcome, welcome to round 11 in the Mitchell Cup in Sydney test cricket. With both teams pushing to make finals, it was an intense Saturday morning during warm-up.

On a hot summer's day, North Sydney bowled first. Eastern Suburbs started well with a 50 from their opener. They batted positively for the full 50 and tactically hit the short boundary consistently.

Henry Lester glistened like a French red wine with the ball collecting 4-33 off his 9 overs, being the pick of the bowlers on his Third Grade debut.

North Sydney Bears knew what they needed to do, chasing 289 in the required 50 overs. However, it was a very short batting innings from the Bears, with Dilraj Singh (opener) and Harry Gardner (batting 8) top-scoring with 18. Hopefully, the Bears can pick up form on the way to the end of the season.

Round 12 v Sydney

Right in the hunt for finals cricket, Liam Whitaker’s men returned to Bon Andrews for a 2-day fixture against the Tigers.

Sydney won the toss and sent the Bears into the field, a decision that looked costly when Lester struck to remove an opener for 1. However, Sydney’s decision proved to be a good one as the second wicket partnership put pressure on the pace and spin bowlers to approach triple digits 1 wicket down. Luckily for the bears, the off-spin pair of Gardner and Whitaker struck back-to-back to put the game back in North Sydney’s favour. Following this, Sydney’s middle fought hard, capitalising on poor deliveries and remaining patient to push past 200. Sydney accelerated, pushing for a declaration, and all the Bears could do was bowl defensively on a flattened-out wicket. Late wickets to Whitaker (2/73) and Johnson (2/37) were the highlights, as Sydney declared on 8/344.

With 6 overs remaining in the day, Kumar and Feilen were tasked with surviving the night. This was successfully completed despite Feilen’s best efforts to convince the umpire that he hit the ball caught by the gully fielder off his thigh pad. The following week, Kumar (82) attacked while Feilen (35) stayed patient, with the pair putting on 136 for the opening stand. But disaster struck shortly after as the Bears lost 3 quick wickets, leaving Hedges and Netto at the crease. The pair absorbed the pressure, surviving until tea against some tight bowling. Following the tea break, they turned to attack. Netto attacked the spinners - hitting a ball onto the motorway whilst Hedges played a series of expansive drives through cover. The pair put on 114 for the 3rd wicket partnership before Hedges (41) was dismissed. From then onwards, wickets began to slowly fall for the Bears, with Netto departing for a brilliant 85 before the tail struggled to add much to the total. The Bears scrambled to 327, just 17 runs short, largely thanks to a late fight from Nevell (30), who almost brought the Bears home.

Round 13 v Sutherland

Round 13 saw the Third Grade side make their way to Sutherland Oval. Upon inspection, the pitch immediately jumped out at as a true flatty, and despite a thick cloud covering, the general consensus was that it was a batsman's day.

Accordingly, when the coin toss fell in favour of the Bears, skipper Jamieson Hedges promptly elected to have first use of what promised to be a belter. Openers, Baran Kumar and Jack Feilen strode out the middle and immediately put the sharks to the sword, scoring 39 runs for no loss after 7 overs, thanks to some booming straight drives from Kumar before he was caught behind for 25. The Bears’ number 3, Max Clark having survived an early LBW shout, immediately started to hit his straps capitalising on an increasingly despondent Sutherland attack.

Clark and Feilen built a solid partnership that spanned 17 overs and accumulated 79 runs. After Clark was caught behind for a well-made 50, Jordan Netto wasted no time opening his account, hitting gaps and dispatching the odd half volley to the fence.

Netto and Feilen, who played with great temperament and fierce concentration, working the ball to all parts of a large Sutherland Oval, ground the opposition bowlers down and swung the momentum comfortably in North Sydney’s favour. After both Netto (34) and Feilen (73) were dismissed, the Bears’ middle order ran well between the wickets, guiding us to a healthy first-innings total of 228.

Fueled by the premium produce of Menai McDonald’s, the Bears stepped onto the field expecting the Sharks to come at us hard considering the early cloud cover hard parted, baking an already flat pitch. However, it was obvious after James Edwards’ first ball received a tentative nudge from the opening batter that survival rather than victory was at the forefront of the opposition's plans. Both Edwards and Cole bowled with good control but without luck, leaving the Sharks 0/19 after 8, building pressure that manifested into a beautiful direct hit run out conducted by Netto. From then on it was simply a matter of how quickly the Bears could take all 10.

Both spinners Harry Gardner and Vrushab Kumar slowly picked away at the opposition's batters’ patience, leaving them both with 2/33 off 10 overs. Supporting wickets from Edwards, Cole, Kumar, and Jamieson sealed the shark's fate, ending their innings on 161 runs off 44 overs. After a tiring fielding of the performance, the bears eagerly entered the sheds to belt out a customary rendition of our beloved song.

Women's 3rd Grade

Bernadette Robson & Amy Gibbons

Round 12 v Sydney

Excited to return after our break, the 3rds couldn’t wait to be out in the middle.

We elected to bat when we won the toss on a hot day, hoping it would cool a little by the time we fielded.

Bernadette Robson led from the start and retired on 33 off 23 balls. Anu Raj also shone with the bat with a quickfire 30 off 18 balls. Isabel Selems was unlucky, falling 2 short of retirement. Huge shout out to Sam Williams, who was given the challenge to score as quickly as she could, and she nailed it, ending with 19 runs off 10 balls! The Bears finished their 20 overs with a respectable score of 142.

An aggressive attacking field was set, and our bowlers didn’t disappoint, keeping the Tigers’ score to a low 42 runs. Bella Bursill, Charlotte Moss and Anjali D’Cunha were rewarded with 2 each, and Georgia MacDonald also got a wicket. Bernie had 2 catches and a stumping, and Kayla Robson also took a catch.

Round 13 v St George-Sutherland

With previous games vs. the St-George-Sutherland Slayers still fresh in our minds, the team was determined to show that we could be competitive for the full 20 overs. Winning the toss, we elected to bat and faced some very tidy bowling. Runs were hard to come by, but we protected our wickets and successfully reached our 20 overs with only 3 down. Bernadette held off the opening bowlers with 24 (54), giving a solid start, but the younger Robson got the runs moving, Kayla retiring at 30* (23).

Defending 76, the bowlers took on the challenge, and we were unlucky not to pull off the win. Passing us in the 17th over with 5 down, the Slayers elected to bat on. In the 18th over, 2 wickets fell, and only 15 runs were added to the score by the 20th. St George may have regretted that decision!

Sadaf Zaidi was the pick of the bowlers with 3/22 off 4 overs. Violet Crowe was rewarded with her first wicket, with Anjali D’Cunha taking a catch on the boundary! Kayla Robson had a fantastic all-round game with 2/12 off 3. Our fielding improved and was vital to keeping the score low, with St George finishing on 91.

Round 14 v Gordon

The anticipation leading up to the start of the game was palpable, as Thirds have historically recorded few wins against Gordon’s potent attack in both the batting and bowling. Additionally, with vice-captain Amy Gibbons promoted to captain on the day and Gordon winning the toss to bat, the team was on edge.

With Gordon’s captain renowned for retiring and the side having a player with over 500 games of experience, we threw ourselves into the game. The wet outfield helped a lot with squeezing them, pressuring risky runs and edged shots. Superb, tight bowling came from our opening two attackers, Anjali d’Cunha (0/20, 3 overs), Bella Bursill (0/10, 4 overs), with the first change of Emily Aitken (1/17, 4 overs) and Sadaf Zaidi (1/10, 4 overs) both taking two dangerous and key wickets that boosted the Bears’ morale. It got away from us halfway through, but an astounding flick-in from Anu Raj to Toni Muller running into the bowler’s end gave us a run-out. The innings ended with retiree Olivia Linfoot rocketing Gordon’s score for them to finish on just 3/91.

As always, Gordon did their best to hold us down in the batting. We originally started off averaging 3 runs an over with the occasional sundry in wides and no balls with our openers Anushka Dongre and Sophia Mavros (13 off 29). However, as the overs progressed, Gordon held us up and the twos turned to ones and the ones turned to dots. Furthermore, our two big hitters Adelaide Hicks (5 off 9) and captain Amy Gibbons (0 off 1) didn’t get the momentum needed and went back to the change rooms one after the other. Now it was down to our lower order, with one order and one only - no more dots. Anushka Dongre retired with 30* off 45 and assured us to keep going with our plan. Down to 40 runs off 28 balls, it was looking like another loss against Gordon but we didn’t stop. Continuous runs ticked the scoreboard over by the lower order, and it came down to 7 needed off 9 balls. Then 5 off 5, 4 off 4 - and on the last ball, a drop and run by Chloe Blackwell (2* off 3) and early backing up from Emily Aitken (12* off 12) gave us the win.

Men's 4th Grade

Alex Perry

A do or die period for the fourth grade Bears to start 2024. Win the next three match-ups and they would be throwing themselves right in the mix for a finals berth.

First up, a huge match-up against Eastern Suburbs, who were sitting in a similar position. Bowling first, the Bears got off to a great start, with an early wicket to Tom Cole and brilliant run out from Maurice Feilen to set the Bears up for what seemed to be a competitive match. However, the middle order for Easts ripped the spinners apart, wickets each to Batish, Barber and Adabala during this middle session, but it wasn’t enough to slow the Dolphins down. The home side ended at an imposing 9-316 at the end of their allotment.

In reply, the Bears got off to a tough start, losing three quick wickets, putting the chase in jeopardy. Feilen continued his fine form, with a defiant 63, and with support from all members of the middle order, the Bears were able to put up a fight, but ended up being bundled out for 203.

A two day match up against Sydney Tigers was next on the schedule, and after getting sent in on a spicy wicket, the Bears were in trouble, being bowled out before tea for 96. Only Harry Davis was able to tough it out with the bat, mustering a defiant 38, and giving his side something to bowl at.

Tom Cole kicked it off again with another early wicket, and debutant Toby Hannan was miserly from the other end with the new ball, putting Sydney under pressure. Going at less than two an over, the Tigers were scratching their way to the total, and at the end of the day required a further fifteen with 6 wickets in hand.

The Bears came out fighting on day two, with a couple of early wickets, but it was too much to do for the side, Sydney passing the total and going on to further set up an outright. Vrushab Kumar was the pick of the bowlers with 4/55 off a mammoth 29 overs, bowling with great control, and always testing both edges of the bat. Karan, Singh, Mannix and Perry were resolute in defence, playing out circa 50 overs for the loss of two wickets, to drive home the advantage the Tigers had gained form winning the toss on day one.

Finally in this trifecta of matches, the Bears faced a Sutherland side lead by Test veteran Stuart Clark. Despite being out of practice, he still was able to create some havoc with the ball on a juicy Tunks wicket. With six of the top seven getting above ten and no one scoring above thirty, it was a disappointing innings, as no one was able to go on with their starts. The Bears posted a mere 131, which was sub-par on the upgraded Tunks outfield.

With the ball, debutant Jack Atkinson was a demon, ripping in and was unlucky not to have more than two wickets. However, it wasn’t enough, as the Sharks chased down the total comfortably in 41 overs.

Fourth Grade head into the final three rounds looking to salvage some pride and play for eighteen points to finish mid table.

Men's 5th Grade

Pat Lindsay

After losing to Sydney Uni just prior to Christmas, 5s found themselves in a precarious position of needing to win most of the remaining 6 rounds to make the finals.

Round 11 was against Easts, with the Bears winning the toss and asking Easts to bat first. Toby Hannan (3-50) made an early breakthrough, but Easts consolidated strongly. Shiv Vohra (3-51) broke the partnership and took another shortly after. Daivik Sahni (3-36) was introduced into the attack and took two wickets with his first two balls, and Easts were struggling at 5-85. Shiv then dismissed the set batter and the score was 6-104 in the 26th. Unfortunately, the Dolphins got away from the Bears because of a mix of positive batting and sloppy fielding. Easts finished all out 218 in the last over, with the tail wagging.

The Bears were down to 10 batters, with Liam McCarthy having injured his shoulder attempting to take a screamer in the outfield. We lost Matt Cole early for a duck, but Angelo Joseph and Matt O'Donnell (18) steadied the ship. Brenton Thompson (66) and Angelo (44) then put on 110 for the 3rd wicket before both batters were dismissed with a score at 143. Both lads batted patiently and maturely, setting the game up for the Bears. Thompson was particularly dominant vs spin and looked set for a big score. Unfortunately, the rest of the batting line-up could not finish the job, with the Bears all out for 196 in the 49th over.

Round 12 saw a return to 2-day cricket vs Sydney at Tunks Park. The Bears were delighted to come away with the 10 points; however, we made life difficult for ourselves at times with a multitude of dropped catches over both Sydney innings. The highlights included Shashank Chari's maiden 5 wicket haul for the club (5-21) in the first innings and Patrick Lindsay's 16th 5 wicket haul (5-37) in the 2nd innings. There were dominant batting performances across both innings, with the Bears scoring a combined 3-240 with outstanding contributions from Naman Batish (54), Izaak Merlehan (48 & 38*) and Chris Lloyd (44*). Special thanks to Tom Roussac, who sub-fielded on the 2nd day for the injured McCarthy.

The Bears travelled to Cronulla in Round 13 confident of 6 points. At this point of the season, it was clear that 5s likely needed to win out to make the finals, so the pressure was on. The Bears won the toss and elected to field on a tacky wicket. The Sharks openers batted confidently, taking the score to 71 before Lindsay (2-36) dismissed one of the pair. The Bears largely controlled the flow over runs with Sutho advancing to 4-145 in the 41st over, before a fantastic knock from their #6 threatened to take the game away from 5s. When he was dismissed in the 47th, the score was 6-204, and the Bears were on the back foot. Chris Savage (3-29) and Matt Cole (2-35) bowled brilliantly at the death to minimise the damage as the Sharks closed their innings 9-224.

The Bears started confidently, but that confidence was a little misplaced early, with some rash shots bringing the top 3 undone. At 3-42 in the 9th, nerves were jangling, but Ben Champion (67) joined Matt Cole (48) and wrestled back control of the game. Both batsmen put away the bad ball ruthlessly.

However, both fell to big shots, with Cole picking out deep midwicket and Champion missing a long-hop to be bowled. When Champion was dismissed, the score was 5-171 in the 32nd over. Run rate pressure wasn't an issue, so Krishna Vanapamula (36*) and Eesa Omar (17) calmly took the Bears to within touching distance of the win, with Eesa dismissed with the score on 219 in the 46th over. A few scratchy runs and sundries later, the Bears had a crucial win, chasing 224 down in the 48th over, much to the relief of some nervous teammates.

With 3 rounds to play (UNSW, Randwick-Petersham and NDs), the 5s are 8th, 4 points out of the 6, and need to win, likely with an outright, to make finals.

Poidevin-Gray Shield

Jamieson Hedges

For the first time this year, the Bears found themselves at the iconic North Sydney Oval for the Conference Semi-Final against Gordon. After losing the toss and being asked to field, the Bears struck early, with Fergusson removing both of the opening batsmen in the powerplay. A small partnership formed for the 3rd wicket until some sharp work from Moore behind the wickets brought about a stumping for Oxenham. The Bears thought they were right on top when Gardner bowled the new batsmen around his legs, only for it to be given not out! However, Gardner made it right the very next ball, bowling the batsmen through the gate with a beautiful delivery. Shortly afterwards, Oxenham capitalised on poor communication to run out the set batsmen, leaving Gordon 5-90. Oxenham (3/22) and Gardner (2/22) continued to build pressure on the middle order as Desai struck to remove the opposing captain. The Bears kept the pressure on until the final ball, bowling Gordon out for 175, with Fergusson finishing 3/36.

The run chase got off to an ideal start as Allomes plastered the openers around for 5 boundaries in the first 2 overs. However, Gordon fought back well, removing both openers and Moore for a well-made 25, leaving the Bears 3/60 just out of the powerplay. Reynolds and Sherriff consolidated well, showing patience and maturity. However, 2 quick wickets for Gordon put the game back in the balance as the Bears fell to 5/104 with the captain Hedges at the crease, joined by Johnson on his debut. Hedges (38) and Johnson weathered the storm from Gordon’s strike bowlers and cashed in on loose deliveries with plenty of gaps in Gordon’s attacking fields. The pair put on 66 together quickly, striking 12 boundaries between them to ensure Gordon was taken well out of the game. The winning runs were struck by Johnson with an unbeaten 39 on debut to lead the Bears to a 4-wicket win with 17.3 overs remaining. Hedges and his men move on to the conference final to play Randwick-Petersham, a rematch from where we were eliminated last year.

In the Conference Final, Bears get off to a good start, losing the toss - but getting what they wanted, bowling in overcast conditions on a green pitch. The Bears started brilliantly, with Fergusson striking in the second over. This hot start continued with Reynolds removing the second opener, with an outside edge through to Moore, before Fergusson struck again to give Moore his 3rd catch of the morning. Reynolds then hit the top of the off stump to put Randwick into a deep hole at 4-14. The middle order began to battle the Bears quicks, who stayed relentless - forcing the run rate below 2 an over. The rewards of the pressure were reaped by Sherriff, who claimed the opposing captain to make the score 5-26 leading into the first drinks break. Having been right on top, a partnership finally began to form, as Randwick put on 98 for the 6th wicket. This was finally broken by Fergusson, who finished with 3-35. The Bears finally removed Coady for a well-made 91, thanks to intelligent bowling from Gardner. The tail wagged for Randwick despite reasonable efforts from Reynolds (2/24) and wickets to Oxenham and Desai at the end. The Bears required 208 to book their spot in the final.

The innings couldn’t have started much worse for the Bears, losing their first wicket on the first legal delivery. However, this was quickly overshadowed by Sykes, who decided to go out swinging whilst struggling with a back injury. The gamble from Sykes paid off as he broke the back of the run chase, striking 5 fours and 9 sixes on his way to 77 off just 42 deliveries, including multiple 20+ run overs. Once Sykes departed, Randwick regained momentum - taking key middle-order wickets of Moore, Sherriff and Reynolds. Netto joined skipper Hedges at the crease at 5-140, still needing 68 to win and with all the momentum with Randwick. The pair fought hard against tight bowling and a barrage of short-pitched balls from McTaggart to earn back momentum for the Bears. Hedges (33) was stable, working the ball around whilst Netto counterattacked, scoring 37 off just 29 deliveries. The pair combined for a 62-run partnership before departing with minimal runs remaining. The Bears, now 7 wickets down with 2 runs remaining, were starting to sweat. Enter Fergusson. The finisher strolls out and crunches his first ball through cover to the boundary to cap off his fabulous all-around performance as the Bears redeem their loss last year to move into the Grand Final. Hedges and his men will play Northern District to win the competition.

Brewer Shield

Mark Williams

Round 12 v Parramatta

Restarting the season after the holiday break, the Bears faced an important game against finals contender Parramatta. The toss was probably a good one to lose, with Parramatta choosing to bat, but finding the going tough on a slow, low bouncing pitch. Sam Kuncham (4 for 9) took full advantage, ripping through the top order with 3 early wickets. Varada Vinay (2 for 19) followed at the same end bowling tightly as usual, but at 4/48 Parramatta was hanging in there with their key batter set. A short sharp spell of fierce bowling by Isabel Selems changed the game, taking 2 for 2 off 3 overs, including the prized scalp of the key batter, and setting in motion a Parramatta collapse as the Bears took 6 for 18 to finish off the tail, all out for just 66. The pressure in the field was a key factor today, with good energy in the field, all catches being taken (including two by Saskia Gibson), and a sharp stumping by Elspeth Herbert off Sharon Julien’s bowling.

With a small total to chase, the coach wanted to see positive batting to counter the conditions and openers Sam Kuncham (36* off 53 balls) and Sharon Julien (retired hurt 14 off 21 balls) did just that. Offering no chances to the bowling team, Sam and Sharon played shots to all parts of the ground to keep the run-rate moving along, with the partnership only ending when Sharon was forced to retire hurt due to a leg muscle strain. Aurora Mavros (11* off 16 balls) continued where Sharon left off, chasing the remaining runs with ease with Sam remaining unbeaten at the end, reaching the total in just the 15th over and earning the Bears another valuable 2 bonus points.

Round 13 v Greater Hunter Coast

For the second week in a row, the Bears faced a stern test, this time going up against the top team from Newcastle. Winning the toss and batting first on a warm day, the Bears could not have hoped for a better start, with Sam Kuncham (65 off 75 balls) continuing her fine form and pouncing on anything short or wide. Sharon Julien (25 off 37 balls) played the supportive role early, and then became more expansive with her shot-making until she unfortunately clipped one to the fielder. But at 1/90 in the 17th over, the opening pair had laid a strong foundation. Sam passed 50 for the third time this season and was looking like she might turn it into a hundred, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be today. Sam Williams (38 off 54 balls) and Isabel Selems (19 off 34 balls) kept the run rate hovering around 5 an over with a solid middle order partnership of 48, however when both fell in consecutive balls at 172, the wickets started to come more freely and the Bears were eventually bowled out for 210 in the 46th over.

The Bears knew that 210 was a good total to defend, but with the pitch not offering the bowlers too much and with Greater Hunter possessing some strong batters, wickets would still be key. Sam Williams (2 for 18) took the first in the second over, and then, with the key batter coming to the crease, the Bears opted to bring on the strike bowlers immediately, Aurora Mavros (0 for 15) and Sam Kuncham (3 for 25). They weren’t able to break the partnership, but the tight bowling kept the run-rate down. Switching to spin in the 13th over brought rewards, with Varada Vinay (4 for 38) picking up both batters with some good catches taken by the fielders. A run out soon after had Greater Hunter at 4/71 and the Bears smelling a quick kill. But it wasn’t to be as Greater Hunter dug in and fought back with an expected counter attack by the middle order. Sam Kuncham returned and took two wickets in the 33rd over to calm the nerves a little, with Varada Vinay doing the same in the 42nd over to find herself on a hat-trick. The resistance finally crumbled, Greater Hunter all out for 180 and the Bears walking away with a well-earned victory in a high-quality contest and a move up the ladder into second spot.

AW Green Shield

Duncan Barber

Round 4 v St George

The season resumed against St George at Bon Andrews. St George won the toss and elected to bat. St George got off to a solid start going at just over four an over before Sriram got a little nick through to the keeper in 14th over; another wicket followed in the same over to knock over the St George captain. Karan took the other opener a couple of overs later and Norths were starting to get back on top. St George steady again and started building the run rate. Barber then took a couple of key wickets to stop the run flow. St George were now 5 for 156 in 37 over. Sam Harwood was brilliant in the field and took 3 catches but it was his direct hit run out that brought in the tail. The tail was wrapped up quickly with 3 run outs and a wicket to Luke Austin. St George were bowled out for 220, the top bowlers Barber 2 for 27 and Sriram 2 for 22. In the field, Harwood took 3 catches and secured 1 direct hit run out while Feilen effected 2 run outs.

There was a little rain at lunch, but we got back on virtually on time and unfortunately, we lost a wicket on the first ball. Hamilton Seong and Jack Mannix hung around at the crease and brought up team 50.

However, we kept losing regular wickets and we were 6 for 133 after at the end of 36th over and losing our 7th in 38th over for 141. Darcy and Toby then took the game away from St George. Darcy’s first match for the side gets a 51 off 44 balls. Darcy unfortunately lost his wicket and we were 8/205 with 16 needed to win off 3 overs. Cool heads prevailed and they worked the singles and doubles until the loose ball comes. It comes down to the last over and we need 6 runs to win. Toby takes a single on the first, Barbes getting him back on strike the next ball and then on the loose ball Toby dissects the field and hits it for 4 to win with 3 balls to spare. Toby made an impressive game saving 36 off 38.

The Daily Telegraph named us the Cardiac Bears after this win and our last ball loss to Penrith just before Xmas!

Round 5 v Campbelltown

It was another wet day as we headed down to Raby but fortunately the field was good and we got underway pretty much on time. We won the toss and elected to bowl and the fast bowlers got to work with Luke Austin with a wicket in his first over. Jack Quinane (J)Q then doubled down in his second over and was on a hattrick. Campbelltown 3 for 5 after 4 and still looking for a run off the bat. JQ taking his 3rd wicket in his 4th over 4 for 15. Luke not wanting to be left behind chimes in with another wicket in his 5th and by 10th we had them 5 for 20 at the end of 10th over. A change of bowlers allowed some batting time at the crease with 1 wicket falling in the next 10 overs to Sriram. However at the end of 21 overs they are now 6 for 44. Toby Hannan came on and took two wickets in 4 overs with JQ taking his 4th and Barbes finishing the innings off. Campbelltown were bowled out in 31st over for 75. JQ was the pick of the bowlers with 4 for 12 off 6, supported by Toby 2 for 7 off 4 and Luke 2 for 13 off 5.

A little rain caused some delay and our small run chase begun so we thought. There was much laughter in the morning with our new title Cardiac Bears and we started living up to it. We constantly lost wickets – the first 12, second at 18, 3rd at 30 and 4th at 31 and now things were feeling a little more interesting. Darcy and Jonah out on a partnership of 18 before Karan came in and steadied the ship with 11 not out. We won when they bowled a wide which was appropriate as extras was clearly our leading run scorer!

Saying all of that, we went home with a bonus point win and were now well inside the top 8 on a very congested leaderboard.

Round 6 v Blacktown

Tunks washed out at 7.00am. Unfortunate due to all other games being played.

Round 7 v Manly

After a wash out on Thursday, we came to the final round. If we win, we are in the finals if we lose, we need a couple of results to go our way. Norths win the toss and we chose to bowl and field before the extreme heat comes in the afternoon.

JQ is on fire again and opens up with 4 overs 1 for 3. Unfortunately, that is pretty much the end of his day after becoming violently ill. Sriram takes the wicket of the other opener. Manly’s captain comes in and has some good fortune in his first few overs with a nick through sips and being dropped at gully. They say catches win matches and he goes on to get 96 off 86 balls and makes us pay. Just before drinks Barbes takes our 3rd wicket and they are 3/62. After drinks Many take the 4th innings stand to 166 and end up bowled out for 228 at the beginning of the 48th over. Toby Hannan takes 3 for 38 off 5, JQ 1for 3 off 4 and Barbers 1 for 23 off 10 overs. In the meantime, Batish has rolled his ankle and cannot bat Sriram is off with thigh issues and the team is holding on to keep 11 in the field.

Our chase begins well with Sam Harwood promoted to opener and he is looking very settled and ends up top scoring for North Sydney with 45 runs with good appearances for Jack Mannix 35 and Jonah 28 runs. Manly brought back their opening bowler which cleaned up the rest of the team losing our last 6 wickets for 22 runs.

Unfortunately, results did not go our way and North Sydney ended up in 10th place.

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