Month 1 Wrap

Men's Kingsgrove T20 Cup

First Grade opened with a new-look T20 competition that brought a few new faces to the North Sydney First Grade squad, with 3 debuts. Everett Oxenham, Addison Sherriff and Hugh Sherriff became players 690, 691 and 692, respectively, for the club. Everett and Addison's debuts were also their first games in First Grade.

In a strange quirk to the new format, our first match, against last year's finalists, Sydney Uni, was played at Bensons Lane in Hawkesbury. After winning the toss and batting first, we only managed to post 7-119 off our 20 overs, with contributions from JA (Justin Avendano), Mac Jenkins and Maresy (Dylan Mares)to help us to the total. With a modest total on the board, we would need to be inch-perfect with the ball and almost were, with Sydney Uni passing our total 8 down with just 3 balls to spare. Debutant Everett was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3-26 off his 4. Fellow spinner Mac was also miserly, taking 2-23 off his 4.

Next week saw the quirks continue as our first match was against Hawkesbury at Sydney Uni on Saturday afternoon. Losing the toss and being sent in on a tricky wicket, we could only manage 4-99 off our 20 overs. Baz (Aiden Bariol) and Addy Sherriff toiled hard up top, but we just could never get going and closer to a target we wanted to defend. Even with a low total to defend, the bowlers did a top job to only allow Hawkesbury to chase the runs in 17.3 overs. Hughie Sherriff took his first wicket for the Bears, and Olly Knight took 1/14 off his 3 overs. That night, we travelled to Drummoyne to take on Sydney in a match under lights, with some fancy light-up stumps! Sydney won the toss and sent us in to bat, with JA pacing his innings to perfection, scoring 76 off 59 balls to help get our total to 3/149 off our 20 overs. Tim Reynolds chipped in at the end with a few crafty reverse sweeps, scoring 27 off 12 balls. Sydney expats the Sherriff brothers took the new ball. They strangled them to 1-10 off the Powerplay, and from there, Sydney never recovered, finishing at 9-109 off their 20 overs. Olly Knight and Mac Jenkins were the pick of the bowlers, with 2 wickets each.

Our final game against Sunday became a sudden-death match, with the winner moving on to the finals and the loser finishing their T20 campaign there. Gordon won the toss (again) and had a bat. The Sherriff brothers did the damage with the new ball, with Addy taking his first wicket for the Bears and finishing with 3-7 off his 3 overs, helping to restrict Gordon to a very gettable 8/135 off 20 overs. Unfortunately, early wickets and some good Gordon bowling left us chasing close to 12 an over for the last 8 overs. Cameos from middle-order bats Tim Reynolds (24 off 21) and Olly (28 off 16) gave us a fighting chance. Still, the steady flow of wickets through the innings saw us stumble to only 9/121 off our 20.

With only 1 win from our 4 games, it was a disappointing campaign that saw us miss the finals. However, with 4 close games and solid contributions from all players at different stages, particularly our 3 debutants, we showed we were not far off matching it with the best teams in the comp.

Men's 1st Grade

Nic Bills

After a disappointing T20 campaign, round 1 (or Round 2 according to Play HQ) saw First Grade make the tough road trip to Manly Oval to take on last year's semi-finalists with Aiden Bariol heading back to Tassie for the start of his season, James Moore became player 693 for the Bears in a very well earned call up. The one-dayers also saw the return of Bears stalwart Jimmy Campbell for the first time this season.

Winning the toss and sending Manly in on a wicket that offered just enough with the ball early saw Jimmy do his thing in his first over, knocking the Manly opener’s stumps over! Olly followed up a few overs later, restricting Manly to 2 -34 off the first 10 overs. Strong bowling in the middle helped restrict Manly to 7/253 off their 50 overs. Our run chase started well, with Maresy and Timbo (Tim Reynolds) combining for a 127-run opening partnership. With both openers going quickly, JA steadied the ship with 40 off 46, before more wickets through the middle left us needing 71 off 8 overs, with 4 wickets to win the game. A few boundaries and a wicket saw the scenario get to 42 off 5 with 5 wickets in hand. Enter the two ice men, Jimmy Greenslade and debutant Jimmy Moore, who guided the ship home (albeit through very choppy waters) to help the side win with 3 balls to spare. Greenslade finished unbeaten with 22 off 17 and Moore 15 off 7 balls. It was an incredible win to start the season.

Our next game saw us take another road trip down the Hume Highway to Raby to take on Campbelltown, looking to capitalise on the momentum from week 1. Jamieson Hedges came into the squad for his first match of the season. Winning the toss and batting, we were on the ropes early after some good bowling from their left-arm quicks, falling to 3-20 within the first half a dozen overs. Mac Jenkins and week 1 hero Jimmy Greenslade helped steady the ship with a solid partnership, scoring 40+, then further work from Jimmy Moore with 33 got us to the strong position of 5/189 after 40 overs. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got with the bat, with the following 5 wickets falling for just 10 runs in 6 and a half overs, with us being bundled out for 199.

Campbelltown kept their momentum from the last 10 overs into the next 10, getting themselves to 0-55 after 10 overs. With the game quickly slipping away, it would have been easy for us to just throw in the towel and let the game slip away quickly, but spinners Mac Jenkins and Robbie Aitken did an excellent job of wrestling the run rate back and making sure we didn't go down without a fight, with the Ghosts passing our total 3 down with less than 3 overs to spare.

Next up was Hawkesbury in our first two-dayer and home game for the season; home was just at BISP this round. The Hawkes won the toss and decided to bat on a wicket that offered just enough throughout the day with the ball. Jimmy Campbell led from the front as he always does, taking 4/44, with Fletcher May coming in for his first game of the year, taking 3/42, bowling Hawkesbury out for 219. Openers Dylan Mares and Tim Reynolds had 11 overs to negotiate at the end of day 1. They did it with aplomb, finishing at 0-38 to finish the day well and truly on top. Returning for week 2, we again started strongly, getting to 75 without losing a wicket. From there, we should never have let the game get close, but accurate bowling from the Hawkesbury quicks kept them in the hunt and steadily chipping away with regular wickets until youngsters Addy Sherriff and Jimmy Moore wrestled back momentum with a solid middle-order partnership, both scoring 31. When Addy got out, there was still a little work to do, and a few quick wickets sent some shivers through the sheds, but Moorey and Fletch got the boys across the line.

After 3 rounds in the top Grade, we sit with 2 wins and 1 loss, but we have yet to play anywhere near our potential, which is exciting for this group, currently sitting in 6th spot on the Belvidere Cup ladder. Strong performances from our younger players and contributions from senior ones, too, leaves us with work to do, but we can do the work from the right end of the ladder.

Men's 2nd Grade 

Callum Hill

The Second Grade Bears emerged from hibernation to take on a travelling Blacktown at the picturesque Tunks Park, determined to start the season with authority.

Things looked to get off to an optimal start when skipper Justin Rodgie won the toss and saw enough in the wicket to send Blacktown into bat on a hot and sweaty morning in Cammeray.

A couple of early scalps from James Campbell gave the Bears the advantage before Blacktown opener Srimaan Narain Malladi was joined by Shrey Parsania, who strode to the wicket at 2-12. The pair slowly broke down the Bears' attack, adding 172 for the third wicket and Parsania bringing up three figures (107). Brief cameos from the Blacktown middle order saw the Bears needing 273 to take the spoils.

English import Ollie Sykes had a challenging introduction to cricket Down Under, failing to trouble the scorers on debut. There was some impressive seam bowling from Blacktown, seeing the Bears on the back foot early. Brent Atherton and James Moore solidified the rocky start by adding 51 for the second wicket before Atherton was run out for 22. Harri Lee-Young took his pads off shortly after Atherton for 4.

James Aitken joined Moore at the crease; the paired chipped away at the Blacktown total, briefly staring victory in the face at 132-3 before Aitken was caught for 35. Moore fell shortly after for a crafty 62. Brief cameos from Fletcher May (29), Jamieson Hedges (15) and James Campbell (22) were not enough for the Bears to start singing the team song in the Tunks Park sheds, Blacktown winning by 53 runs.

The second round saw the evergreen Manly Warringah side travel to Bon Andrews on a sunny Saturday in North Sydney. The Bears worked hard through the week at training, and all 11 men made sure they got their eight hours of sleep on Friday night in an attempt to right some wrongs from the opening round.

Manly won the toss and sent the Bears in to have first use of the facilities. Atherton again showed his class, batting through most of the innings for 81. There were valuable contributions from James Aitken (26), Harri Lee-Young (26), Robbie Aitken (35) and Jamieson Hedges (29*).

The Bears began to have some flashbacks to the previous week when Manly got to 89 without loss before the off-spin of Robbie Aitken made the crucial breakthrough, taking a neat catch off his own bowling. Partnerships continued to build, but the Bears never let the game get away from them before suddenly, wickets began to tumble. Wickets were shared around, and to cut a long story short, Manly fell six runs short in what was a fantastic day for the top three grades.

The Bears remained at Bon Andrews for the arrival of Campbelltown Camden, who were arriving in North Sydney, also sporting one win and one loss.

Rodgie lost the toss – a great result – and Campbelltown elected to have a bat. It was one-way traffic from the outset, with the newly called-up Hamish Reynolds going, as the kids say, "berserko". Completely dismantling the Campbelltown top and middle order, claiming an electric 6-37. Left-arm spinner Sam Alexander was crafty, continually following up the slow straight one with the slow straight one to keep the lower order guessing; his 2-16 included a sensational piece of fielding from the Bears leader…

Campbelltown's No.9 Hayden Tipping decided to take Alexander on, hitting him back over his head on a flat trajectory. Enter the frame Rodgie, who took off from mid-off, looking not too dissimilar to Radike Samo peeling off the back of a scrum. He quickly morphed from Samo into Superman when he leapt out of his boots to become fully horizontal and approximately six feet off the ground, plucking the ball out of the sky at full stretch like it was somebody else's meal at Percys. Incredible.

The sense of pure euphoria disappeared when he dropped arguably the most straightforward catch ever seen at the North Sydney Oval complex, but anyway, Campbelltown were all out for 102. Reynolds 6-37, Alexander 2-16.

The in-form Atherton and newcomer Callum Hill strode out to the middle and made reasonably light work of the chase, reaching the Campbelltown total without loss in the 18th over, Hill 51*, Atherton 38*.

After back-to-back wins at home, the Bears hit the road and ventured to Hawkesbury.

Rodgie lost the toss, and the Bears were out in the field along with half of the world's population of flies.

Reynolds got into his work early yet again, picking up more early scalps via the hands of the slip cordon (Sykes and Hill).

The lads found themselves in a lull, and who to create a spark out of nothing but the skipper, a ball is hit through mid-off, and Rodgie sets chase, Rodgie's pursuit of the ball displayed an uncanny resemblance to Mr Larson chasing Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore, you know the "I believe that's Mr Gilmore's jacket," guy, anyway, the fearless leader dives head first into the steel picket fence, going straight through it, the Bears captain quite literally ran through a fence for his troops, and then proceeded to hand his cap to the umpire and bowl the next over while he was still pulling metal splinters out of his whites. Inspired by this dedication, a murmur of "Here we go, Rodgie, here we go" began to echo around the inner ring, and it travelled; for a second, it sounded like the opposition fans were getting involved.

Rodgie, still fired up from his demolition job of the fence, proceeds to find the outside edge of the Hawkes' best batter, and Lachlan Stewart pouched a brilliant catch behind the stumps. Sam Alexander was the pick of the bowlers, bowling 18 overs and claiming 4/40. He also mentally disintegrated a young Hawks batsman by relentlessly asking him to “COME HERE” at the top of his mark, a textbook veteran manoeuvre. Hawkesbury were all out in the 70th over for 204.

Reynolds, 3/45, Hedges, 2/45 and Rodgie, 1/12 were the other notable figures.

Atherton and Hill managed to get through until stumps at 49 without loss, firmly in the box seat heading into the following week.

There was a bit in the pitch on day 2, too much for Hill (14), who was out LBW not offering a shot in the second over of the day; Sykes wasn't far behind. Netto (20) and Atherton (44) worked hard on a tricky wicket before both falling to false shots, but they got through the challenging period, and the pitch began to harden underfoot.

Lee-Young came out to bat at No.5 and batted positively. He was joined by the in-form Reynolds. The pair eased into their work before cashing in on some tired bowling, passing the Hawkes' total half an hour before tea – Lee-Young on 64. Rodgie sent out a message, "You have until tea to get 100." Lee-Young proceeded to hit his next ball to the Blue Mountains, and it became glaringly apparent that he may only need 10 minutes. He distributed balls all over Owen Earle and got to his maiden century for the club with a six, an elegant knock by a terrific young player. Reynolds’ innings snuck under the radar, finishing 52 red.

It was an early trip home for the lads, with another win in the back pocket, and as they made their way down Bensons Lane, the handyman was arriving to fix the fence.

Women's 2nd Grade

Harry Mavros

Round 1 - Away vs Northern District

A new season dawns and a new beginning for the Bears as we made our maiden appearance in Women's 2nd Grade Premier Cricket. Bowling first at Asquith, we contain the highly fancied NDs batting line-up to a par score of 115 off their 20 overs. Our spin attack shines, taking all 5 wickets and conceding only 4 runs/over. Emily Aitken is the pick of a good bunch, snaring 3 poles. After a horror start to the chase, losing our opening batter to the first ball of the innings, Alex Mavros and Sophia Mavros went on the rebuild, taking the team to within striking distance of the target. Adelaide Hicks brought us home with some lusty hitting down the ground, smashing 6 boundaries in her 31, while Alex Mavros top scored with 36. A great win against a solid team to start the season and prove we have what it takes to compete and win at the pointy end of the competition.

Round 2 - Home vs Sydney

With hopes high from last week's effort, we move to the picturesque Tunks Oval, win the toss and bat first against a Sydney side boasting several First Graders. Unfortunately, we repeated the poor start from last week, but there was no recovery this time. Against innocuous but accurate bowling attack, we are bundled out for a mere 61 runs. Under no scoreboard pressure, Sydney batters swung freely and make swift work of the chase. The only moment of note was Jasmyn "Jazzy" James collecting her first wicket in Premier Cricket to a diving outfield catch from Sophia Mavros. We move on to fight another day.

Round 3 - Away vs St George-Sutherland

On a sunny Sydney day, we travelled to Glenn McGrath Oval, winning the toss, we bat first again, keen to undo the calamity of last week. Disappointment again, as none of our top-3 get to double figures against very accurate and disciplined spin bowling. Alex Mavros steadied the ship, top-scoring with 25, and we scramble uncomfortably to a modest but defendable total of 86. Our spinners put us in a good position, conceding just 20 runs from their 10 overs, with Emily Aitken shining with 3 wickets, Jazzy James collecting 2, and Amy Gibbons contributing a crucial run-out via direct hit. Unfortunately, one of our key spinners went down with an injury mid-innings, and we failed to defend 9 in the final over against their tail. It was a crushing loss, but cricket is a cruel game. The one that got away.

Round 4 - Home vs Manly

After a much-needed pep talk from Coach Goszko, we get 'straight back on the bike' and bat first after winning the toss at Bon Andrews. This time, we suffered another poor start in the powerplay. Still, an inspired Captain's knock from Sophia Mavros (37 from 35 balls, 7 boundaries) put us on the path to a healthy total. Adelaide Hicks brought the artillery at the back end, smashing 7 boundaries in her 29-not. We post 112, a good score, but not impregnable on the short-sided Bon Andrews. Manly never looked like getting there, with all bowlers fighting hard to restrict and contain, ably supported by a dedicated fielding effort. It was a clinical defensive innings for a T20 match, with Shiloh Julien bowling with excellent control in the powerplay (0 for 16 off her 4 overs), Emily Aitken bowling tightly in the middle overs (2 for 11 off her 4 overs), and Alex Mavros and Sophia Mavros pairing to coolly close out the final 5 overs.

Men's 3rd Grade

Liam Whitaker

The season started with a bang as 3s travelled to Jim Henshaw to play Blacktown in round 1. Skipper Lachlan Stewart decided to have a bowl after winning the toss. Leading the Bears off with the ball, Hamish Reynolds ripped in, taking 3 wickets alongside our overseas player Harry Gardner, who also managed 3 wickets. The Bears' fielding backed up the bowling with 2 direct hit run outs from Baran "Baz" Kumar and Nihal Desai and some excellent catching all around the ground from a wide spread of the team. Blacktown were dismissed in 45 overs for just 95 runs as the Bears went for the jugular. The first 4 overs were dispatched for 40 runs as Baz and Max Clark were on a mission to finish the game early. After 2 quick wickets, the ship was steadied by Hamish and new recruit Callum Hill, and the Bears finished with 7 points.

Round two came around quickly as the bears headed north to take on manly at Graham Reserve. Newly named captain Liam Whitaker started off by losing his first toss, and the Manly skipper said, "we will try and bat". Again, leading the team with the ball was Hamish Reynolds, as he took 4 for 24 off his 10. An excellent partnership from Will Graham at the other end as he had no luck with several plays and misses for the left arm opening quick. He finished with 2 for 25 from his 9 overs, along with some handy overs in the middle from Fergus Fergusson and the skipper Whitaker. Manly were dismissed, setting the Bears just 163 if they wanted to secure 6 points.

The Bears started off strong again before losing a wicket in the 5th over. This brought Hamish to the crease alongside Clark as they teed off on the Manly attack as an array of balls crossed the boundary. As the runs flowed, the possibility of a bonus point came into play. The batters pounced on the offer with some clever batting through the middle with Nevell, Hill and Kumar all chipped in with some quick runs. A few more wickets fell, and the bonus point option became tight; Fergusson stepped out to the crease as he sent his first ball in grade cricket over the rope for a handy 6 to bring the bonus point back into play. He got the Bears over the line for 7 points. 2 from 2 with a bonus point in each game, what a start for the 3’s boys.

The big drive out to Campbelltown for round 3 saw Whitaker go 0/2 in tosses as the Bears were sent into bat on a hot day at Raby. The Bears were in strife early as they lost 7 wickets for just 60 runs. Dilraj Singh did his best to hold the lads together with a very handing 36 as he stayed in for most of the innings. Harry Garnder (32), better known as “Pom”, did some heavy lifting, helped out by Will Graham (23) at the other end, bringing up a total of 145 after being bowled out.

This fired up the big, quick Graham as he ripped in with the first ball. It crashed into the stumps of Campbelltown's opening batsman. Rumour has it he still needs to play the forward defence, as the arm of Graham proved way too quick. Will finished with figures of 3 for 29 off just 7 overs. Nihal Desai had an outstanding spell in the middle, bringing the Bears right into the game with a very handy 4 for 24 off 7 with some very "classic" leg spin wickets. Very tight bowling alongside Desai was Gardner at it again with a tremendous 8-over spell, going for just 21 with a wicket. The Bears dismissed the Ghosts for 108, taking 6 points after an excellent fight shown by the bowlers. 3 from 3 with a great song in the sheds.

The fortress of Tunks was to be the destination of round 4 as the Bears took on Hawkesbury in the first 2-day match of the season. Whitaker, continuing his excellent form with the coin, was again told what to do by the opposition as they declared they would like to bat on a beautiful wicket. They shortly regretted this decision as some excellent fast bowling from Nuwan Whyte and Will Graham took Hawkesbury to just 4 for 28 with a share of the wickets for the 2 quicks. The rest of Hawkesbury’s wickets were left to the skipper and Jacob Graham as they took 4 for 25 and 2 for just 9, respectively. Some sharp work from Nevell behind the stumps with some excellent catching helped end the Hawkes inning as they were dismissed for just 79.

The Bears were left with 43 overs to face in the day. Finn Nixon-Tomko finished the day strong on 66* after a slow start. Dilraj Singh managed 35 as he was dismissed just before the end of playing, bringing John Nevell to the crease as the Bears finished off the day 2 for 118 and leading Hawks by 39 runs.

Day 2 opened with the Bears losing 3 wickets in 3 balls before Vrushab Kumar stepped out onto the field with some lovely cricket shots travelling to the boundary, he and Gardner scoring 23 each. The declaration was made as the boys led by 86.

A couple of early wickets fell as Whyte struck first, followed by the 2 Grahams taking a wicket each. Soon, spin was brought on as the Hawks attempted to shut up shop. Some excellent bowling from Gardner and Whitaker as they cleaned up the last 5 wickets between them, and the Bears secured an outright win with 10 points after bowling Hawkesbury out for 81 in the second innings. Taking the Bears to 30 points after the first 4 rounds.

Women's 3rd Grade

Evy McKay

Round 1 vs Bankstown

To kick off the season, we took on Bankstown in a 40-over away fixture. We won the toss and chose to bat, getting off to a flying start with Emily Aitken (60*) and Anushka Dongre (50*). With both openers retiring, we were on our way to a solid total, helped by the middle order. Amy Gibbons (40, including eight 4s) and Sophia Mavros (34* off 15, including six boundaries) were the standouts. After the 40, we were 7/229, a very defendable total.

Bankstown started with a strong start from their openers. But Charlotte Moss (2/20 off 6) and Anushka Dongre (1/22 off 8) took both their opening wickets quickly, leaving them at 2/49. Despite a slight middle-order fightback, we kept their runs down with some tidy bowling from Emily Aitken (2/19 off 4), Sophia Mavros (0/18 off 6), and Violet Crowe (0/5 off 3). Slowing down their run rate immensely, we kept them to 7/178 at the end of their 40 overs, securing our first win of the season.

Round 2 vs Sydney

In round 2 against Sydney, we lost the toss and were sent to field first. Despite one of Sydney’s openers making it to the mandatory retirement of 50 runs, we got off to a relatively strong start with the ball. Our opening pair inflicted most of the damage, Charlotte Moss taking 1/36 off 8 and Bella Bursill 4/33 off 8, both with 2 maiden overs. Emily Aitken’s bowling was, as always, extremely tidy at 1/20 off 8, including 2 maidens. Sad Zaidi (1/3 off 3) also featured, taking her first wicket for the Bears. At the end of 40 overs, we restricted Sydney to 169 runs.

We welcomed back Bernie Robson with the bat as she scored a swift 52* off 23 balls, and her opening partner Emily Aitken contributed a handy 25 runs. Anu Raj (17) scored her first runs for the Bears, and Kayla Robson helped us to accelerate with 38 off 20, including three massive 6s, leaving us at 3/150 in just the 11th over. Evy McKay came to the crease in the 12th over, smashing a quick 17* off just 5 balls to take us over the line. In the following 6 overs, we gave everyone a go with the bat and piled on some runs to add to our bonus points. Bella Bursill (15*) and Amy Gibbons (21* off 9 balls) finished off for us, ending with 227 runs off just 20 of the allotted 40 overs. After a dominant performance, we were thrilled with our second win of the season.

Round 3 vs Gordon

Round 3 was our first big test of the season, never having beaten Gordon in any season prior. We went in to bat first, not getting an ideal start. Bernie Robson (31 runs) saw most of the opening bowling off before Amy Gibbons and Kayla Robson came in to settle some nerves. Amy scored a solid 43 runs, while Kayla reached mandatory retirement with her 55* off 33 balls. After a few quick wickets, Isabel Selems (50*) steadied our middle order. We finished with a defendable total of 8/228 off the 40.

We started well with the ball, having Gordon at 1/18 courtesy of Anushka Dongre (3/29 off 8). However, we knew that Gordon had the depth to put up a fight. Finally, a breakthrough came from Bella Bursill (1/36 off 6), taking out a dangerous top-order batter. At this point, our worm graphs were looking uncomfortably close. Wickets were not coming easily, so we knew we had to build up as many dot balls as possible. Anjali d’Cunha (0/25 off 7) and Bernie Robson (2/11 off 5) provided. We took a few much-needed wickets, but by the last ball, Gordon needed just 4 runs to win. Bernie Robson delivered the last ball, combining with Anushka Dongre to take a magnificent catch to win us the game.

Round 4 vs Sydney Uni

Last Saturday, we took on Sydney University at home. We lost the toss and started in the field, with Charlotte Moss (2/27 off 5) and Anushka Dongre (2/11 off 5) getting us off the mark with an early wicket each. Other standouts came from Evy McKay (2/19 off 7), Emily Aitken (1/16 off 5), and a crafty bit of fielding from Bella Bursill for a sneaky runout. We bowled Sydney Uni out for 146 in the 36th over.

Despite our confidence, we got off to a shaky start with the bat, losing our top 3 for just 11 runs. Sydney Uni’s bowlers put on a strong attack as Amy Gibbons (25) and Anna Peterson (5) came in to steady the innings. Everyone felt nervous when we were 5/58 until Evy McKay and Sadaf Zaidi came to the crease. The two put on a solid partnership as Evy (50* off 55) stuck at the crease until her retirement, and Sadaf (12 off 52) saw off more dangerous bowling. Evy and Sadaf took us to 6/144, with the tail-end batters picking up the last few as Chloe Blackwell (2*) hit the winning runs. After an anxiety-inducing batting innings, we picked up our fourth win of the season, taking us to the top of the table, undefeated thus far. We take on Parramatta in a challenging, must-win match next round.

Men's 4th Grade

Alex Perry

The 23/24 Season kicked off for Fourth Grade with 3 one-day games followed by a two-day game in round 4, the side hungry to go two steps better than their semi-final exit last year.

With plenty of returning faces mixed in with new talent, the squad made their way out to the infamous Whalen Reserve, where, following the formula that has brought the side so much success in recent times, we bowled first and restricted Blacktown to 6/155 at the end of their 50 overs. All bowlers chipped in with a wicket each, and last year's Fourth Grade player of the year, Vrushab Kumar, was the pick with 2/23 off his 10.

The chase started with a stutter, with the top order looking rusty in the first game back of the season. Harry Davis (21), Izaak Merlehan (22) and Vrushab Kumar (62*) rescued the Bears. He maturely guided the side home out of a spot of bother with 13 overs to spare. Six points and a song, plenty of improvement to come, but many boxes ticked round 1.

A second-round clash with 22/23 semi-final opponents and eventual premiers Manly Warringah awaited the Bears back at the home of cricket, Tunks International Sports Park. The home side bowled exceptionally well to restrict the premiers to 8/171 after their innings; veterans Jacob Graham (3/33) and Jack Thomas (1/12) were both miserly off their 10 overs, whilst Dilraj Singh showcasing his new skills, took a skilful 2/22 off his allotment.

Despite a strong start with the bat, driven by Singh (37) and Johnson (25), the home side struggled through a tight middle session and were almost able to scrape home thanks to some last-ditch heroics from Jack Thomas and Eesa Omar, but ultimately were unable to capitalise on a very chaseable total, being bowled out for 153 with 13 balls remaining.

Round 3 saw Campbelltown Camden venture to Tunks International Sports Park, the home side looking for a bounce-back game to keep pace with the leading pack. After losing the toss and being sent in, a commanding and clinical team innings was on full display, a high-octane start provided by the electric Kaustav Karan (44); Vrushab Kumar provided stability and scoring through the middle, playing with poise and excellence for a well mace 76 and Jacob Graham finishing fast with 49* to close out the innings.

A formidable 6-243 was set, and the Bears defended it in style. Early wickets to Jack Thomas (3/35) and tight bowling from Brad Wilson set things up for Jacob Graham (2/7), Eesa Omar (3/29) and Vrushab Kumar (2/15) to roll through the Campbelltown lineup. The innings ended with a bonus point secured, and Campbelltown bowled out for 96.

In round 4, we saw the return of two-day cricket for this season, and a trip out to Bensons Lane to face Hawkesbury was on the cards for the fourth-grade side. With plenty of dry, hot weather forecast for the two weeks, the side knew it would be challenging, as they were greeted with a rock-hard wicket. Winning the toss and batting, the Bears got off to a great start, with openers Karan (33) and Cole (44) taking the side past 50 before the first drinks break without losing a wicket. Dylan Johnson (86) and skipper Alex Perry (33) commanded the innings through the middle. Robin Broom (38) came in after the last drinks break with a quick-fire innings to boost the final total to 276 at the end of the first day. Johnson was outstanding, batting for over 50 overs, playing gracefully and showing poise throughout a tough couple of sessions, showing maturity beyond his years.

The second week, as expected, was tough; the pitch was hard and flat with consistent bounce; however, opening bowlers Brad Wilson and Eesa Omar picked up a crucial early wicket each whilst keeping the scoring rate down. With Hawkesbury being 2/115 off 46 at tea, the game was well and truly in the balance. Spin was the trick, with Ravi Adabala (2/57) and Alex Perry (4/41) dislodging both key batsmen, opening the door for the Bears to run through the Hawks middle and lower order. This, coupled with some outstanding fielding and Hayne Plane action from Brad Wilson, allowed the Bears to squeeze the Hawks out of the game, taking their 10th wicket in the 80th over, bowling the home side out for 204.

A couple of clinical performances to close out the first quarter of the season leave the Bears sitting 5th on the ladder, with an extensive set of four games coming up against St George (8th), Parramatta (3rd), Gordon (4th) and Wests (1st), the side is rearing to continue their hot form.

Men's 5th Grade

Pat Lindsay

After the first 4 rounds, the mighty 5s are sitting comfortably in 4th with 3 wins from 4, including 2 bonus points.

The season started unconventionally with a Sunday fixture vs Blacktown at Killara Park. 4s skipper Alex Perry filled in to lead the side due to his unavailability on Saturday and won the toss and elected to bat. 5s posted 9/229 off their 50 overs, with Dylan Johnson the star of the show with 63. Jack Mannix, Naman Batish and Matt Cole all chipped in with 30s.

Debutant Henry Lester got things rolling with the ball, taking 2-25, before Shiv Vohra spun a web, taking 5-28. Blacktown bundled out for 122, and the Bears’ song was sung in the home sheds at Killara.

A clash of the big guns saw the Bears travel to Mike Pawley to take on Manly. Sent in by Manly, the returning skipper Mike Lloyd rewound to the clock with an imperious 93* as the Bears plundered 260 from its 50. Jack Mannix showed his class 53, and Krishna Vanapamula carved out an impressive 30 at the death. The Bears started well with the ball, reducing Manly to 4-88 before one of the better Fifth Grade knocks by Manly batsman Brodie McDowell took the game away from us. McDowell was too good, finishing with 134* as Manly passed our total in the last over.

The Bears travelled to Raby keen to extract payback from Campbelltown following their Round 2 loss. Chris Savage led the way after the Bears elected to field first with a wicket off the first ball of the innings. It all came up Bears as Shiv Vohra took his 2nd 5-fa of the season with 5/31, and Savage mopped up the tail and finished with 4/20. Ravi Adabala took the other wicket - a peach of a toppy to clean up the Ghosts skipper. The Bears made light work of the chase, running down the target of 149 within 30 overs to secure the bonus point. Mike Lloyd finished with 53*, and Krishna Vanapamula provided the fireworks with 43*, including 4 fours and 3 maximums.

Another journey beckoned in Round 4, with the Bears travelling to Bensons Lane to take on the Hawks in the first two-day round of the season. The Bears fielded first and skittled the Hawks for 110, with stand-in skipper Lindsay taking 7/42. The Bears chased the total 3 down before the end of Day 1, securing the 6 points. Unfortunately, 5s couldn’t make quick enough inroads into the Hawks 2nd innings, and an outright was impossible.

The Bears have a tough run with St George (currently 3rd) and Parramatta (currently 2nd) to come in the next 2 rounds.

Poidevin-Gray Shield

Sarah Berman

With many of the team that reached last year's Sixers Conference Final having graduated from the under-21 age group, it was a young, new-look PGs side who suited up for the Bears at Waverley Oval on the second day of the season.

Asked to bowl first by the Dolphins, the Bears got off to the best possible start when Hamish Reynolds made the first breakthrough on the third ball of the innings, thanks to a catch behind by Jordan Netto. It took another 12 wickets for the second wicket, a first for the club for Addy Sherriff before the Bears' spinners got into their work, the next two poles being taken by Nihal Desai and country import Kai Brunker. After a partnership of 63, the Bears took regular wickets to dismiss Easts for a below-par 211 in 48 overs. Sherriff took 3/34, skipper Jamieson Hedges 2/37 and Everett Oxenham a parsimonious 1/14 off 7 overs, with his wicket the crucial one to break the fifth wicket partnership that threatened a much larger total.

In reply, we lost both openers early to run-outs. Still, a patient 34 for James Moore on Bears debut paved the way for the defining partnership, 91 between Sherriff (50) and Hamish Reynolds (65) for the fourth wicket. Jamieson Hedges (30*) iced the chase with 4 wickets and 15 balls in hand.

Round 2, bang smack in the middle of the HSC, led to a couple of exam-related outs, but Harry Davis and Harry Gardner came into the side, and James Moore took the gloves. Once again asked to bowl first, the Bears had to wait until the 9th over for the first wicket, caught by Hamish Reynolds off Fergus Fergusson, and another 11 overs for the second. From here, it was a tight team performance with no quarter given, all bowlers taking at least one pole. Only one conceding over 5 runs per over, and smart rotation by captain Hedges not to allow the Saints to settle. Moore behind the stumps took a stumping and pouched four catches, and St George was dismissed for 175.

Once again, the Bears had an early scare in reply, losing both openers with the score at 34 after a fluent start by Harrison Allomes (22). But this brought together James Moore and Addy Sherriff, who first steadied the ship and then accelerated towards victory. While Moore hit the bigger shots, including arguably the shot of the day, a six over long-on, Sherriff was busy and chanceless, a perfect foil. The pair added 144 unbroken to carry the Bears to victory with over 10 overs remaining.

2 from 2 puts the Bears in a pack of four teams on 12 points, one behind ladder-leaders Randy Petes. After two away matches, we now have one on our own turf, against UNSW at Bon Andrews on 12 November before taking on Manly by the sea on 19 November and Randy Petes at Tunks Park on 10 December.

Brewer Shield

Mark Williams

Round 1 – Away vs Northern District

The new-look Bears side ventured slightly north for the first round of the 2024 season to face an improved Northern District side. Bowling first, the new ball partnership of Aurora Mavros and Sam Kuncham kept the opening batters tied down. However, NDs were running well between wickets and upped the run-rate in the middle overs, finishing the innings at 4/111. Sam Kuncham was the pick of the bowlers with 2/12 off 4 overs. Eva Jenns and Aurora Mavros started the Bears' batting innings brightly. Sam Kuncham continued at first drop with a team-high 38 off 40 balls. However, the ND spinners tied us down well in the middle overs, and despite some late big hitting by Sam Williams (21* off 16 balls), the Bears fell 7 runs short. Despite the loss, the team walked away knowing that although not at their best, they pushed one of the best teams in the competition.

Round 2 – Home vs Sydney

The first home game of the season was a grand final replay vs Sydney at the beautiful Tunks Park. Batting first, Eva Jenns and Aurora Mavros started well, with Aurora finishing with a team-high 27 off 27 balls. The run-rate dipped in the middle overs, and despite a competitive total of 4/109, it was felt that we were 10-15 runs short of a good total. Georgia MacDonald joined Aurora to open the bowling and again kept the opening batters quiet. A run-out broke the opening partnership, and despite some misfields and dropped catches, the team looked set for their first win of the season. However, some big hitting from the Sydney captain chased down 17 runs off the last over and had the Bears lamenting the one that got away. Sharon Julien was the pick of the bowlers with 2/19 off 4 overs.

Round 3 – Away vs Greater Hunter Coast

A trip north to Newcastle to face an undefeated Greater Hunter Coast felt like a tough assignment after the heartbreaking loss the week before. Batting first, Cassie Watson was elevated to open. She made the most of her opportunity, smashing 7 fours on her way to 32 off 39 balls. The middle order kept the run-rate going, and some brutal hitting by Isabel Selems (37* off just 21 balls) in the last 5 overs saw the Bears finish at 7/125. Without last week's opening bowlers available, Sam Williams and Maddy Paynter took the new ball, with the honours shared through the first 6-7 overs. By the end of 10 overs, GHC looked comfortable at 2/69 with their two best batters well set. However, Sharon Julien overturned the game with a crucial caught and bowled, plus two run-outs to leave GHC reeling and unable to recover, falling well short at 6/101. Varada Vinay was the pick of the bowlers with 1/13 off 4 tight overs.

Round 4 – Home vs Manly

Spirits were high after last week's win, but expectations were set for a tough fight against a good Manly team. Bowling first on a green-tinged deck, Aurora Mavros and Georgia MacDonald had Manly under pressure with 3 wickets in the first 6 overs. Aurora (2/14 off 4 overs) only narrowly missing a well-deserved hat-trick. The bowling unit kept the pressure on throughout the innings, restricting Manly to 6/89 despite their opener carrying her bat through the innings. Chasing 90 to win, the batting unit was confident, but Manly's bowlers were bowling tightly (giving away 0 extras for the entire innings) and kept the run-rate down early on. Sam Williams (13 off 11 balls) and Isabel Selems (15 off 17 balls) broke the shackles with some much-needed boundaries. Still, neither was able to go on for a big score. After some resistance from Sharon Julien (13 off 22 balls), Manly swept through our lower order to come away with the victory.

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