Month 2 Wrap

Men's 1st Grade

Nic Bills

Round 5 v St George

Another away trip, this time to Hurstville Oval on a gloomy, wet day to take on ladder leaders St George. After losing the toss and being asked to bat, we stumbled to 4/40 before Mac Jenkins (58) and Addison Sherriff (43) steadied the ship to bat the entire second session to take us to 4/150. Rain started to come back after tea, and we lost 3 quick wickets before a counter-punching innings from Olly Knight took us to 7/197 overnight, a solid effort after the worst of the conditions.

As luck would have it, the sun came out in week 2, but Knight continued where he left off the week before taking advantage of the small Hurstville boundaries, finishing with 68 off 50 balls, taking the total to 251.

Unfortunately, that was about as good as it got for the Bears, with the Saints dominating from then on. Fletcher May took a wicket with his first ball, but otherwise the Saints were in total control, passing our 251, 2 wickets down. Addy Sherriff was the other wicket-taker and the pick of the bowlers.

Round 6 v Parramatta

Round 6 saw us travel down Victoria Road to Old Kings, taking on last year's Premiers, Parramatta. Harrison Ward debuted for the Bears, becoming player 694, a long way from home in Sussex in the UK.

After losing the toss and being sent in again, we stumbled with early wickets and good bowling to be bowled out for 75. Credit goes to Parramatta's bowlers, but we could not change the game's momentum. Jenkins was the only batter to show any resistance, finishing with 23no.

With all the work to do with the ball, the bowlers managed to keep Parra's scoring restricted, only allowing them to pass our total 3 down in 32 overs. From there, they threw caution to the wind and picked up another 75 runs in about half the time to declare at 5/160. With 3 overs to face that night, Dylan Mares and Tim Reynolds safely negotiated the task without losing wickets.

Day 2 saw the rain clouds come back and much more of a fighting spirit from the Norths batters. With little to play for but our pride, we finished the day 5/118 off 60 overs in less-than-ideal conditions with the rain. Reynolds and Jimmy Greenslade were the pick of the batters, with 31 and 22*, respectively. While there wasn't much to celebrate, we could take a small piece of satisfaction from the fight shown on day 2 and save outright defeat.

Round 7 v Gordon

The first Saturday / Sunday 2-day game of the season also brought the first home game at Bon Andrews Oval. With a few injuries and rep duty, there were a few changes to the side, with Nihal Desai (695) and Callum Hill (696) making their debuts and Jamieson Hedges and Harri Lee-Young also coming into the team for their first red ball First Grade fixture of the season. Another loss at the coin flip saw the Bears sent in again. Gordon bowlers started well and used the conditions nicely to take 2 early wickets, but Mares and Reynolds steadied the ship to get us to 2/80 and set the platform for the rest of the day. From there, Ward and Jimmy Greenslade took control of our batting innings, guiding us well past 300 at stumps. We had seen out an entire day with the bat for the first time this season. The next morning, we batted on, but unfortunately for the mass of spectators, Greenslade couldn't quite get to his ton, falling agonisingly short on 98no. It was an elegant and impressive innings nonetheless. We left Gordon 346 to chase in 88 overs.

The game ebbed and flowed from there as both teams grappled momentum during periods. With regular wickets and a steady flow of runs, Gordon got to 7/236 at tea, needing another 110 runs with about 42 overs and 3 wickets in the shed. The Bears bowlers turned on the goods in the last session with one of the best performances I've seen from a bowling group to bowl Gordon out for 328 in the 82nd over. Jimmy Campbell was the pick of the bowlers with 4/52 off his 17 overs, ably supported by Desai on debut with figures of 2/76 off 19 overs – the last 12 of which went for just 25 runs.

It was an incredible win to end a drought of a few losses and give us the momentum heading into the next white ball portion of the competition.

Men's 2nd Grade 

Sam Alexander

Batting first against St George at Bon Andrews, the second grade boys were confident of laying a solid platform to pile on as many runs as possible before the rain rolled in.

Callum Hill and Brent Atherton went about this in sublime fashion, rotating the strike and putting away the bad ball to have us 0-80 before the heavens opened up, and we called it a day. Special mention to those who helped with the covers; it is a thankless task, and while sometimes phones will ring or other more manageable tasks may arise, most guys put their hand up and got the job done. Well done, boys.

We turned up the second week faced with a powerful breeze blowing downhill towards The Greens. Most bowlers were licking their lips at the opportunity to bowl with that at their back.

St George took full ownership of the breeze with first grade quick T McKenzie rolling through our order, the Bears going from a strong 0-80 to all-out 251, about 50 runs short of where we wanted to be. Contributions from Hill (54), Atherton (47), J Aitken (39), G Aitken (26), and L Stewart with a classy 23* at the end.

The young-gun duo of Hedges and Reynolds stole the show with the ball, having St George reeling at 3-30. These guys have contributed all year and held our pace attack together.

However, after a bowling change that saw most bowlers rotated from the southern end, defying St George's tactics, the St George batsman quickly utilised the conditions to race away with the game. Our bowling attack was broken by their quick feet and deep understanding of the game. Heads were hung low, and question marks were raised; however, we all knew we could bounce back next week.

North Sydney arrived at Tunks Park, which saw the ground's previous fourth grade game result in 80 runs for 20 wickets.

Despite this, Parramatta chose to bat first.

And didn't they deliver?

Maintaining a bone-rattling score rate between 1-1.5 an over for the majority of the game, it was clear they turned up for a result.

They were prepared to chew dots and build an innings, putting the Bears' bowling attack under slight pressure, instead pointing toward the slow outfield and not the lack of attacking cricket as the reason for this sluggish start.

However, at 60 overs and 4-110, there's still plenty of time to score, isn't there?

Surely they will give it a whack at the end?

Well, for two whole overs, the Bears saw 3 attacking shots and 3 wickets to magic man and future first grader Mr Desai. It really lifted morale, and soon Parra was 9-160odd.

The day finished with the Bears looking to take a wicket and Parra looking to survive. Interesting tactics on a slow day of cricket.

Day 2 began with a dropped catch off the bowling of young star Hamish Reynolds to Rodgie at short cover. Parramatta capitalising on the dropped opportunity and laying the boot in to finish 229, in stark contrast to last week's efforts.

With the rain coming and going, we all knew the day would be called, yet we managed to get on and post a paltry 3-30 before hands were shaken. Another solid effort by all on the covers; it's a part of the game where we've really come together, with the task being delegated so well. Onto next week, boys.

"Team first" was the mentality turning up to Chatswood Oval to take on the Stags. New skipper James Aitken lost the toss, and we were batting, a result we were looking for anyway.

You could feel the morale boost in the side as Finn Nixon-Tomko and Jordan Netto walked out to open the batting. They looked at ease and played with freedom with plenty of attacking shots finding the rope.

Netto's departure saw Sykes into the crease. He soon found his feet and cracked and smashed a few to the boundary like a man possessed. However, Sykes' and Tomko's departure saw a massive collapse, with only Harry Gardner (11) reaching double figures. 148 all-out was certainly under-par at Chatswood.

Despite the low score, everybody backed our new bowling attack of May, Graham, Fergusson, Gardner and Alexander to get the job done. May had come down from 1's, and Fergusson, Graham and Garder all contributing highly to third grade's swashbuckling start to the season and finally reaping their reward.

The attack showed why they are quite the form combination in the club, having Gordon 5-70 on a flat one at Chatswood, with everybody up in the field and a positive energy amongst the team. Like a weight had been lifted, everyone moved around the field like gazelles, stopping balls, hitting stumps and enjoying every moment.

Gordon decided to shut up shop and bat the 50, hoping this tactic would get them home, which it eventually did. The Bears managed to reduce Gordon to 8-118 and, with some luck, we could've easily sealed a win.

Despite the loss, everybody remained positive and enjoyed a couple of beers in the sheds in one of the season's most enjoyable games. Well done, lads; onto next week.

Women's 2nd Grade

Harry Mavros

Round 5 – Penrith

Looking forward to a chance at double bonus points against cellar dwellers Penrith, but alas, the rain intervenes, and the game is called off.

Round 6 – Parramatta

We travel to Merrylands Oval on a beautiful sunny day and send the locals in to bat. The decision immediately pays off, with Aurora Mavros castling their opener for a golden duck. Things never really improved for Parramatta from there, with a disciplined bowling effort and two excellent direct-hit run-outs from Sophia Mavros and Aurora Mavros helping to restrict them to a modest 7 for 89 after their 20 overs. During the innings changeover, Parramatta's coach is overheard telling his team that this total was "plenty on a tricky wicket". Bears openers Shiloh Julien and Alex Mavros reveal this to be a fib, making light work of the chase, overtaking the score in the 12th over. Alex Mavros makes a run-a-ball 36 (5 fours and a six), and Shiloh Julien makes a run-a-ball 37 (2 fours).

Round 7 – St George-Sutherland

We host the Slayers at Bon Andrews and send them into bat, looking for revenge after our heartbreaking loss when we played them in Round 3. Their top order struggles to make much headway against our bowlers, with their top 3 bats only contributing 23 runs off their 97 balls faced. However, with some loose bowling (we give them 42 extras) and a good cameo from their No. 9 bat, see them post a decent total of 182. We get away to a wobbly start, with our top three all gone, the score still at 35, and 148 runs still needed. Captain Sophia Mavros comes to the crease under enormous pressure to produce a captain's innings, and she delivers. Batting with grit, technique, and tempo, she scores a chanceless 77 not out to steer the team to victory in the 47th over. An excellent supporting hand of 41 is played by Emily Aitken to put on a 100-run partnership, and a swashbuckling 22 from India Keating helps seal the deal at the back end. A delighted Coach Goszko judges that this is perhaps the club's finest women's victory.

Round 8 – Sydney University

Back at Bon Andrews, we host the underpowered Sydney Uni team, looking to push for bonus points. We take the initiative after winning the toss and batting but get away to a catastrophic start, with opener Alex Mavros getting dismissed in cricket's cruellest fashion on the first ball of the match, an accidental deflection at the non-striker's end. Unphased, Sophia Mavros smashes the ball to all corners of the ground, scoring 57 off 38 balls (9 boundaries and a six), while India Keating finishes the innings with 25 off 18 (4 boundaries). But the batting honours today belong to Adelaide Hicks, who just about carries her bat (she came in the second ball of the innings) to score a superb 98 off 72 balls (18 fours and a six). Wow! We post a mammoth 195 runs. Looking to restrict the Syd Uni batters to 97 to secure two bonus points, our bowlers clinically execute the job, with Sophia Mavros taking three and snaring a spectacular diving catch. Syd Uni ended up 9 for 81. Job done.

Round 9 – Manly

Missing several regular players this week, we lose the toss and get sent in on a Graham Reserve wicket with some hills and valleys. Our openers are resolute in seeing off the new ball. However, our top order fails to accelerate from this base, allowing the accurate but unthreatening Manly bowlers to have their way uncontested. Despite a sparkling 23 off 15 from a fearless India Keating, we limp to a disappointing total of all out for 149, which is even more disappointing given that 34 of that total were extras! Realistically, we will only win if Manly bat foolishly or our bowlers have a miraculous day out. Unfortunately, neither of these two things occurred, and despite a very tidy bowling effort (ironically, probably our most accurate bowling all season with only 9 wides conceded in 36.5 overs), the Manly batters easily overhauled our sub-par total in the 37th over on a pitch that has dried out to play beautifully for the batters. If only we had scored a few more runs, the excellent bowling effort showed that the result may have differed.

Men's 3rd Grade

Will Graham & Izaak Merlehan

Round 5 – St George

Through the lens of a Third Grader – I awoke on my couch to the sunlight peering through the gap left between curtain and sill, needling into my bloodshot eyes. Three questions presented themselves to me in the following moments as I stumbled into consciousness: Why isn't it raining? How am I getting to the ground? Is there someone in my bed? Quickly determining the two former questions required immediate attention, and the latter would hopefully work itself out. I corralled myself into an Uber and began the journey down to Harold Fraser Oval for the first day of our clash against St George. Upon arrival, I was greeted by our fearless skipper, Liam Whitaker. He unveils his trademark smile and asks me the simple question, "How you holding up big fella?". I've seen this man in action; he can read the intent of a batsman simply by the tightness of his grip, but on this occasion, the deduction was trivial and a realisation materialised: this was a toss neither of us could afford to lose.

We commence our typical touch footy warmup, and young Harry Gardner's horrendous ball handling and composure under pressure thankfully masked my physical condition. However, neither of us likely had our full attention on the game as we kept one eye on the coin whilst it rotated in the air and rattled down onto the pitch. Everything stopped. The captains peered ever so slightly closer to the coin, and then, in a moment of pure ecstasy, Liam gave us one of the most animated double-armed fist bumps and declared, "We'll bat thanks". The cricketing gods are looking after us.

Our opening pair of Harry (Ollie) Sykes and Finn Nixon-Tomko navigated us through the new ball period before a short deluge halted play for the moment. An error in the covers meant the side wicket has transformed into a bog, and the umpires shortly confirm we are back next week for 120 overs.

I arrived to the ground for the second week of our contest, with the world spinning far less rapidly. I open the door to our sheds, and to my astonishment, I'm met with the sight of an opposition player in the centre of the room in nothing but a towel, engaged in a chat with our two resident poms. "Mate, what are you doing in here?" I inquire, bewildered by the audacity of this bloke. He shoots me a bemused look before exiting the sheds with his tail between his legs. The boys are up.

That altercation fuelled the lads into the touch footy warmup. As the high ball spiralled in the air off the enormous boot of Max Clark, Harry Gardner, the man who dropped every pass last week, was in the firing line. He gets under it, sets himself, and you better believe he swallows it. The boys are on.

The opening pair resume their unfaltering stay at the crease, with Sykes, in particular, punishing anything short of the seam bowling and dancing down the track to dispatch the spin with a foray of one bounce fours without the strength for a maximum, almost as if someone had come to his home uninvited and eaten half his steak. The stand is finally broken with Finn being run out at the striker’s end off the hand of the bowler, and a few overs later, Sykes' aggression would be his downfall, skying a ball to the infield for 72, and just like that, the game is back in the balance.

St George then wrestled back control of the game, employing spin from both ends on a slow and turning wicket, cycling quickly through our middle to lower order. With the dismissal of the skipper, I was sent out to the crease to join Nihal Desai, with the score 9/160. The instructions from the sheds were clear, and it played right into my wheelhouse; just block the thing. As I built a wall up my end, Nihal played one of the great fightback innings, latching onto anything short and sending it into the pickets. By our declaration, we had amassed 228 runs, with Nihal bringing up 50 red, firmly putting us right where we wanted to be.

Our plan was straightforward after witnessing our batting innings and analysing the conditions before us. After a promising start from Fergus, son of Fergus (Fergus Fergusson), blowing off a front pad in his first over, we quickly turned to our spin duo of Liam Whitaker and Harry Gardner. Both sides met the challenge well, with neither taking a decisive stride ahead of the other. A wicket was claimed in short order whenever a flurry of boundaries came. Both spinners put in some serious overs, ending with 3 wickets apiece, bringing the score to 7/140. At this point, Liam turned to me with the ball in hand and ushered, "You're up now, big dog". This was my moment; this is what I was put on this planet to do: to take lower-order wickets and boost my average. After bagging a few cheap ones at the end, the task fell to the saviour of our batting innings, Nihal Desai, with his mercurial leg-spin bowling to scalp the last pole in the few remaining overs. With a cleverly disguised wrong-un to the hapless number 11, the off stump tumbled, and the boys were up and about. Beach Road Hotel.

Round 6 – Parramatta

Through the lens of a bloke still in Third Grade – Whilst receiving a lift from the older and wiser Graham of North Sydney, affectionately known as 'Yak' out to Merrylands for our clash against Parramatta, one thing immediately stood out to me; it was not cold. Another thing stood out upon arrival to the ground: this deck was flat. With the omission of our typical leader, Liam Whitaker, for rumoured involvement in a Bexley riot, Max Clark took the reins for the top-of-the-table side, and his first decision as captain would be enormous: heads or tails. Knowing the importance of this toss, the team vigorously debated the merits of heads against tails, with a divide emerging with camps for 'always go heads' and 'tails never fails'. One unnamed member began dissecting the weight of the surface of the head and the likely trajectory of the flip against the breeze before being asked when the last time he had spoken to a woman had been.

Ultimately, it would come down to the cricketing gods, and as the Paramatta captain flipped the coin, I anxiously wondered whether we had used up all our credits on the last round toss. The coin landed, the captains shook, and we would be having a bowl.

Any standard 3rd grade side might be forgiven for being dejected at this result and starting the day off sluggish, or as the heat swelters throughout the day tail off in the back end, but if there's one thing that's certain about these boys after 5 rounds, it's that these lads can bowl. All the bowlers put in a phenomenal shift, toiling away admirably, notching big overs under their belts. The stand-out performance was from Fergus, father of the same name, whose hostile and fiery bowling on a lifeless deck snared 4-40 off 20. All the bowlers were well supported by the brilliant efforts of the boys in the field, with a special shoutout to the 2 Dils, Dylan and Dilraj, operating in the offside region with complete command of their zones.

After a brutal day in the dirt, finishing the day on 8/230 felt like a win and the boys were pumped to come back next week on the same deck and chase these runs down.

However, a lot can change in a week, and as confident as I was that it was hot last week, I was sure the rain would play a factor this week, presenting a completely different set of obstacles for the boys to handle. Immediately, the mountain to climb felt higher as the ball began seaming and darting off the wicket in a manner seemingly incomprehensible a week prior. A valiant effort from Son Fergus Fergus and Dylan Johnson in the middle order, posting 40 and 50 respectively, was unfortunately not enough to put us in striking distance of the total and with time running down, I joined the man who had given me a lift to the ground with the exact instructions as the previous round; more wheelhouse stuff.

With 4 overs to go after soaking up an hour of Parramatta's best efforts, the ostensibly impregnable defence of Yak was conquered by a new and unique form of dismissal. With that heartbreaking ending, the Bears received their first loss of the season.

Dejected and bemused, I filed into Yak's car after the game and momentarily sat silently in the front seat. The silence lingered tensely, broken by the words "Hey, Google, directions to surfers’ paradise".

Round 7 – Gordon

An unrecognisable third grade team made their way to Tunks International after the club was struck with some early and late unavailabilities.

Another poor effort at the toss by skipper Liam Whitaker was his first and only mistake of the day. Gordon chose to bat on a dewy morning, and North Sydney couldn't have been happier. However, a start of 0/46 showed just how good Bernie is, as the new ball came onto the bat delightfully for the Gordon openers. A genius bit of captaincy changed the game's momentum when Harry Davis kept up to the stumps to lightning-quick seam bowler Travis McKenna, completely rattling the opener, who had so far walked at every delivery. This saw his off-stump cartwheel to the rock face, and the Bears had a sniff. Captain Whits then, thanks to a well-thought-out misfield from Vrushab Kumar, took three wickets in an over, dismissing the opener, numbers 4 and 5, all caught in front of the wicket, which can only be described as some of the worst shot selections in history of the sport.

Gordon crawled to 103, all out, thanks to Whits' 5/18. Nuwan Whyte and McKenna shared 2 each, and Baran Kumar took 1. During the break, Liam stated we weren't necessarily chasing the bonus point, then contrarily appointed Baran to open the batting. Baz played on a different pitch to everyone else, finishing the game in 21 overs, amassing 72 runs (red ink), including a spectacular pull shot for six straight down the ground. Even though the Bears were "under strength", not a single player didn't deserve to be there. 7 points, thank you very much.

Women's 3rd Grade

Evy McKay

Round 5 – Parramatta

On a rainy Saturday, we took on Parramatta in a critical away fixture. We started well with the ball, Charlotte Moss (3/15 off 7 overs, including two maidens) taking an early first wicket, and then two more big wickets with crucial catches from Eva Jenns. Parramatta found their rhythm, and wickets were generally hard to come by. Evy McKay took 1/44 off 8 overs, and Bernadette took 1/12 off 5 overs. After their 40 overs, Parramatta ended on 5/166.

Heading into bat, we were optimistic about the total we had to chase. However, Parramatta came out with extremely tight bowling and took early wickets to put pressure on us. Bernie Robson top scored with 30 runs, followed by Charlotte Moss with 17. In the 35th over, we were all out and well short of the total but looking ahead to another clash with Parramatta in round 8.

Round 6 – Bankstown

In round 6, we hosted Bankstown in a T20, winning the toss and electing to bat. Evy McKay (29) opened with a slow but steady knock, 1 run from the mandatory retirement of 30 runs. India Keating (24) joined her at the crease, followed by Kayla Robson (24) for some crucial quick runs. After the 20th, we ended on 6/117.

Anjali D’cunha (0/19 off 4) and Bella Bursill (0/25 off 4) opened the bowling to a strong opening batting pair. India Keating (0/9 off 3) provided tidy bowling to slow the run rate immensely. The break-throughs came from more tidy bowling from Emily Aitken (1/12 off 4, including a maiden) and Evy McKay (1/14 off 4). After 20, we kept Bankstown to 2/95, securing a needed victory.

Round 7 – Sydney

In this T20 fixture at home, Sydney won the toss and elected to bowl. We started strong with Emily Aitken hitting the mandatory retirement of 30*. Evy McKay (23 off 17) and Amy Gibbons (33* off 22) boosted the run rate quickly. Charlotte Moss (17) helped see us to the end of our 20 overs, finishing on 5/142.

Anjali D’Cunha (1/8 off 3 overs) had an early breakthrough with the ball, assisted by Amy Gibbons, who had an excellent catch behind the stumps. Bella Bursill (0/11 off 3, with one maiden) and Charlotte Moss (1/18 off 3) provided more tidy bowling to slow Sydney down considerably. The star with the ball was Sadaf Zaidi, who took her best figures of 3/9 from 4 overs. We kept Sydney to 5/88 off their 20 overs, giving away only 4 extras in the entire innings.

Round 8 – Parramatta

Abandoned due to rain.

Round 9 – Gordon

Round 9 saw us take on a strong Gordon side in another T20 at home. We lost the toss and were bowling. Gordon’s openers got off to a strong start, with one batter hitting the mandatory retirement of 30* quickly. Anjali D’Cunha (0/17 off 3) and Anushka Dongre (0/17 off 4) did well to slow Gordon down. But Emily Aitken (1/18 off 4), Evy McKay (0/19 off 4 including a maiden) and Sadaf Zaidi (0/2 off 1 over) really lowered the run rate. Gordon finished 2/111 off their 20 overs.

Cassie Watson and Emily Aitken opened the batting with 9 runs each, but Gordon’s tricky bowling proved a problem. After a top-order collapse, Amy Gibbons (30*) and Anna Peterson (13) stuck at the crease to see us out to the 20th over. Unfortunately, we finished well short of the required 111 runs. We take on Manly in round 10 in a must-win match.

Men's 4th Grade

Alex Perry

A mixed bag for the Bears through the second quarter of the season, kicking off with a two-day match against in-form St George at the famed Tunks International Sports Park. The first weekend saw no play due to a deluge that continued all day over Sydney’s North Shore, meaning 120 overs for the teams the following week.

And what a day of cricket this was, winning the toss and electing to bowl, Perry had wickets on his mind early, and come they did. A wild morning of cricket saw St George bowled out for just 36, Jack Thomas the chief destroyer with 5/24 off his 13 overs, Wilson and Edwards also with two apiece for not many. The visitors were all out before lunch, and the Bears had to negotiate a tricky over before the break.

Post the break, the wickets continued to tumble with a similar formula being applied by the Saints, and some well-placed fielding positions made the chase much more challenging than it should have been. Scratching and clawing, Wilson eventually hit the winning runs 8 down, the Bears being bowled out for 40 with 6 points in the bag. With time still to go before tea, the Bears managed to snag 2 early ones but shook hands at the break, taking the six points and moving on to a top-end table clash against Parramatta at Bon Andrews.

The 9am start and green pitch had no one fooled, it was hard underneath and Parramatta won the toss and got straight to work with the bat. It was a tough morning session for the Bears, with Parra putting on 200 by morning tea for losing 5 wickets. Merlehan announced his return to the side by picking up key wickets at timely intervals to stem the flow of runs with his off breaks, also cleaning up the tail with his spin twin Adabala. Merlehan was the pick of the bowlers with 5/70 as Parramatta posted an imposing 322 all out.

With time left in the day, the Bears suited up for a quick stint with the bat, looking to put a hole in the chase for next week; however, they were unlucky to lose Karan early and night watchman Omar before the close of play. However, it would not matter, as the rain was biblical throughout the week and on Saturday, players shook hands just before 1pm and shared the points.

Round 7 saw a return to one-day cricket and served up a semi-final rematch against local rival Gordon at Killara Park. Losing the toss, the Bears were asked to bat first on a tricky wicket with a heavy outfield. A couple of quick early wickets saw the Bears in trouble; Weerakoon (28) and Perry (18) began to mount a fightback before Perry was dismissed. Enter debutant Jack Feilen, showing no fear and controlling the innings masterfully until the last ball. He had ample support from the tail on his way to 55, being dismissed on the last ball as the Bears posted a defendable 152.

Two early wickets to Lester had the Bears believing, but Gordon stabilised and began to build a partnership, chancing their arm to 2/75 after 20. The hosts looked home and hosed, but the Bears were back in the mix with some clutch bowling from young Greenshield spinner Lachlan Barber, accompanied by tight bowling and a spectacular run out from Adabala. The Stags fought back, not laying down, soaking up the pressure and mounting a charge in the dwindling afternoon light, but another twist remained. A brave move to bring Batish’s leggies on at the end saw the fall of a key wicket, and the next ball at the other end, Khatter picked up the other set batsman; with 10 to get, this was anyone’s game. The number 10 took the willow to Khatter and hit a bomb, but then was removed by an absolute hanger by Joseph at short cover. Points still on offer, Batish stepped up, trying to repeat his heroics from the previous over, but it wasn’t to be, Gordon hitting the winning runs nine down, for a clash that will go down as what could have been for the Bears.

The side ends the quarter equal 6th with local rivals Northern Districts, and a test of the highest proportions up next, with 2nd place Wests and 1st placed Bankstown the two next matchups on the schedule. With some good results, the Bears can set themselves up for a post-Christmas finals run.

Men's 5th Grade

Angelo Jospeh

Round 6 – Parramatta

In a strange one, to say the least, the Bears looked at a grass-covered road and lost the toss, perplexed at two things. The first was that we were playing Parramatta in Bankstown, and the second was why they would send us in to bat.

The first day had signs suggesting Parramatta had it right, as the Bears fell to be 3/16. It seemed that Parramatta had seen something the Bears were unaware of. However, on my way to the crease, I remembered this is North Sydney, and of course, we're susceptible to losing clumps of wickets.

Still, after 10 overs, the Bears had some work to do, and the rebuilding stage began with club debutant J. Feilen rearing to go. The Bears looked comfortable at drinks and had steadied the ship some to be 3/70 odd; however, in a classic North Sydney display, the Bears lost two wickets and had one catch dropped in a single over that one might say a specific something about clumps and wickets, again.

Soon, the Bears found themselves to be 6/73 with the skipper distasteful with how he'd gotten out, and another season debutant found themselves with responsibility on his shoulders. It must be noted, however, that T. McKenna was not at his first rodeo and was able to quickly pile a few runs against some targeted short bowling; McKenna will be the first to tell you how good his pull shot is, comparing it to the likes of R. Ponting at his best.

Thanks to McKenna's steady head, the Bears finished well short of where they should have, leaving the door wide open for Parramatta to take the reins. The Bears were all out for 145 and had a bundle of overs to bowl at the end of the day, 41, in fact. This proved plenty for T. McKenna, who rose to the occasion, taking the first 5 wickets and asking if anyone else felt like coming to the party. The short answer was no, but Feilen delivered a couple of tasty full tosses to which the Parramatta batsman had no answers. With Parramatta 7/119, the Bears, could they pull off something? The answer was no, as Parramatta ended the day 7/183.

Day two after a wet week, and the groundsman presumably left the covers on all week, delivered nothing less than what was expected: a green wet one. Keen umpires got the game going on time, and T. McKenna grabbed 7/65 as youngster A. Sriram grabbed a scalp to see Parramatta all out in 10 overs and crept to a quiet lead of 65.

The Bears saw an opportunity for a reverse outright and fancied their chances. The ball spitting and seaming all over and scoring swift runs was challenging. After 16 overs, the Bears were a respectable 1/45; the Bears needed to up the ante, and that was what happened. Sitting at 3/88 but only a lead of 23, certainly not enough, overs slipping away, and some 40 overs left in the day, North Sydney wanted a piece of the Parramatta batsmen towards day's end. The Bears batted on and soon followed another collapse, not excusable, but given the slight lead, the Bears came off second-best. Given the dicey pitch conditions, trying to put quick runs on the board was arduous, and the score slipped to 8/132 before a deluge of rain stopped play.

With 24 overs left in the day, would it have been a heroic declaration and points for the Bears? We will never know as the rain stopped play, and both skippers shook hands. The Bears sit in 6th place after a couple of defeats and should be eager to run into Christmas singing a few more songs than in the last month.

Editor’s note: In the three other rounds in this block, Fifth Grade lost to St George (Round 5), and beat Gordon (Round 7) thanks to 101 from Chris Lloyd.

Poidevin-Gray Shield

Jamieson Hedges

Continuing from the Bears' hot start with 2 wins from 2 matches, the PGs side returned home to Bon Andrews to play the Bees. After losing the toss and being asked to bowl, the Bears couldn't have gotten a better start, with Reynolds trapping the UNSW opener plumb in front with his first ball.

The start continued for Reynolds (2/39), picking up the opposing captain overs later – before Hedges joined the party to make it 3 down.

The Bees fought back through the middle with a solid partnership despite tight bowling from Sherriff and Oxenham before the Bears got back in the wicket’s column with 2 to Oxenham (2/39) and 1 to Desai (1/30).

Another short partnership began to form as UNSW approached 200. However, some clinical late bowling from Hedges and Gardner – who finished with 4/27 and 1/2 – helped contain UNSW to 182 on a good batting wicket.

The Bears' chase got off to a dreadful start with English opener Sykes trapped in front off an attempted bouncer which rolled underground. It worsened as Moore was hit on the pad first ball but managed to survive. Netto (33) and Moore (41) then counterattacked with a run-a-ball partnership to put the Bears on top. Their dismissals brought Reynolds to the crease, who smashed 8 boundaries, including 4 sixes on his way to 48, before being caught on the boundary by a 'waist high' full toss – it nearly hit his grill. Reynolds' dismissal left it to Sherriff (34*) and Hedges (17*) to finish the innings, including a late acceleration to secure the bonus point as the Bears managed a 6-wicket victory with 21.3 overs to spare.

With 3 wins on the board from 3 games, the PGs side aimed to go 4 from 4 away at Manly Oval. Hedges won the toss and elected to bowl on a green wicket with high expectations of the in-form bowling attack. However, Manly got off to a good start, with the two opening batsmen surviving opening spells from Hedges and Reynolds before the introduction of Gardner (1/21) brought about the first wicket.

With the Manly innings gaining momentum, an incredible example of partnership bowling came from Sherriff and Fergusson, who tied down the middle order. Sherriff (3/30) reaped the rewards of this pressure, crashing into the off stump on 3 separate occasions before Reynolds (1/41) returned from the other end to remove the last set of batsmen.

With the death overs looming, the Bears returned to spin with Oxenham and Desai (1/27) striking to remove the lower middle order before Desai created a chance out of nothing with a stunning run out from the boundary. With Manly 8 down, the bears aimed to restrict them below 200, which late wickets from Hedges (1/26) and Oxenham (2/30) almost allowed them to do, as Manly posted 202.

The run chase once again started poorly, with Allomes and Netto falling early before a common sight of Moore (46) and Sherriff (39) steadying the ship. However, when Moore fell, the wickets began to tumble. Unfortunately, a series of questionable shot selections led the Bears to lose 5 quick wickets, with the only fightback being a cameo from Sykes (39), leaving the tail end with the daunting task of chasing 50 from the final 15. Sadly, the batters left too much for the tail to do, and the Bears fell 41 runs short, a critical loss that will hopefully spur the team on to improve from their mistakes.

Brewer Shield

Mark Williams

Round 5 – Penrith

Unfortunately, the weather gods conspired against us, with heavy rain washing out the entire round over the weekend. We look forward to the start of the 50-over games next week!

Round 6 – Bankstown

After a frustrating washout the previous week, the girls headed to Grahame Thomas Oval in Bankstown needing a morale-boosting win. Sent in by the opposition on a slow, lifeless pitch, our batters found scoring difficult, with the run rate hovering below 3 for much of the innings. Varada Vinay (13), Sam Kuncham (23), Sharon Julien (11), and Sam Williams (15) all made starts but couldn't go on to a big total, and after a middle order collapse, we were teetering on 7/88. However, a vital 8th wicket partnership of 38 between Eki Sidhu (33) and Elspeth Herbert (14), playing their first innings of the season, helped the team reach a low-ish but defendable total of 134. We needed to bowl the opposition out to win, and Sam Kuncham (1 for 6) got the team rolling with a beautiful delivery to bowl the key batter for just 5 runs. All the bowlers were hitting the right lines and length, bowling 8 maidens between them, and spreading the wickets amongst the team. Miki Jenkins (1/11) picked up her first wicket in Brewers, while Varada Vinay bowled exceptionally well with 2/2 off 4 overs and nearly took a hat-trick. And in a memorable finish to the game, debutant Saskia Gibson (2/1) took the last two wickets off consecutive balls, leaving her on a hat trick in her next game! A well-deserved, fighting win for the team (with the added bonus of 2 bonus points), lifting the spirits for the games to come.

Round 7 – St George-Sutherland

Celebrating First Nations Round, the Bears were back at home against a St George-Sutherland team that had started the season well. Sam Kuncham and Miki Jenkins opened the bowling, and a couple of wickets to Sam (2/17) got the Bears off to a good start, but the Slayers were going well up until the drinks break, with their key batter set and looking confident. But the introduction of spin changed the complexion of the game, with Sharon Julien (4/25) ripping through the middle order, including the prize wicket of Lucia Martin. Varada Vinay (3/12) continued the spin domination, mercilessly finishing off the tail, to leave the Bears chasing a low-ish total of 114 to win. Varada Vinay and Phoebe Hancock opened the batting for the Bears, but the Slayers' opening bowler had us under pressure early with a couple of wickets. However, Sam Kuncham (58*) played a very assured and responsible innings at #3, scoring a well-deserved half-century as her batting partners came and went. Sam Williams (19) provided some support in the middle order, but it was Sam K's day, and she guided the team to victory in the 25th over to secure the win and 2 valuable bonus points.

Round 8 – Blacktown

Swinging back into T20 mode, the Bears headed west to face Blacktown with a largely full-strength side. Winning the toss and bowling first, the Bears were on the back foot early, with Blacktown starting brightly. But opening bowlers Aurora Mavros (1/8) and Georgia MacDonald (1/12) hit back with wickets to turn the pressure back on the Mounties. And the pressure kept building, with a slick stumping by Lily Hancock followed by a sharp slip catch from Maddy Paynter, both off Sharon Julien's (2/7) bowling. And then the run-outs began, with 4 in total, as the Bears finished off Blacktown with a team hat trick to finish the innings in the 19th over for just 51 runs. Aurora Mavros and Varada Vinay opened the batting and immediately got the run rate going as the Bears looked for an early finish. A slight wobble halfway through the run-chase increased the nerves as the Blacktown spinner took 2 wickets in 2 balls. However, Sam Williams (17*) joined Aurora (24*) in the middle to put on a quick-fire 28 runs off 20 balls to seal a comprehensive win in just the 9th over and take home another 2 bonus points.

Round 9 – Penrith

After being washed out against Penrith a few weeks ago, it was good just to get a game in. Several players were away, providing an excellent opportunity for some of our younger squad members to step into the fray. And step up, they did. Bowling first, Aurora Mavros (1/7) and Janani Raghavan (0/2) put on an excellent display of new ball bowling, restricting Penrith to just 1/9 after 8 overs with 4 maidens between them. Isabel Selems (1/10) then chipped in with a wicket before Miki Jenkins (3/16) and Sharon Julien (3/15) tore through the middle order with 3 wickets each. Young guns Marnie Flett (0/4) and Saskia Gibson (1/2) continued to pile on the pressure, with Penrith bowled out for just 63 runs. Aiming for another double bonus point victory, opening pair Maddy Paynter and Cassie Watson put the pressure on Penrith. Despite a couple of wickets falling, the batting group steadily chased down the target in the 23rd over, with Janani Raghavan (24*) and Cassie Watson (20) top-scoring for the team. It was a clinical performance by the young Bears for their 4th win on the trot, with another 2 bonus points lifting the team to 4th place on the ladder.

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