Round 7 Wrap Week 2 vs Parramatta

1st Grade UTS North Sydney vs Parramatta at Old Kings Oval

Parramatta 296 (M Alexander 3/49, J Campbell 3/70, O Knight 2/45) def by UTS North Sydney 4/299 (JN James 125, J Avendano 95*, B Bryant 43)

Jack James defence

Young gun Jack James scored his maiden 1st grade century to guide the Bears to a compressive victory over Parramatta at Old Kings Oval as Bears players lead both batting and bowling aggregates in the NSW Premier Cricket competition. 

When the players arrived for Day 2, they were confronted by a thick smoke haze that could not have been good for the sinuses. It made your eyes and throat sore and the new Bank West Stadium difficult to see. Parramatta batted on from the previous week’s score of 9/291, but were quickly skittled for 296 with Matt Alexander (3/49) taking the final wicket in the third ball of the second over. Alexander continues to lead the Premier Cricket first grade bowling aggregate with James Campbell just a few places below.

Jack James (pictured), in his sixth first grade appearance for the club, opened the batting with Ben Bryant for the Bears and the pair set about knocking off the required runs. Some lovely cover drives from James and a few whacked back over the head of the bowler from Bryant, combined with some disciplined defence and outstanding running between the wickets, got the openers through to lunch at 0/83 off 26 overs. The fielding team toiled hard, trying a range of field placings to manage the run rate, but rarely beat the bat as the wicket flattened out.

James copped a barrage of short balls after the lunch break, but kept his composure, even taking one on the body.  In the 36th over Bryant clipped a two to bring up the hundred run partnership, the third time in six matches that that James and Bryant have combined for a century stand. More short stuff presented James with the opportunity to bring up his fifty with a four to fine leg. He followed this up with a six as he moved from 48 to 61 in the 38th over. The openers put on 119 runs before Bryant (43) was given out LBW.

With the fall of the first wicket, James was joined by his skipper, Justin Avendano, who has been in great recent form. Avendano got off to a bright start with two fours in his first over. The pair pushed the score along to 1/168 by the tea break with James on 81 and Avendano 32. After tea, the equation was 129 runs from 32 overs for the win. Both players showed good intent in the final session hitting 23 runs from the first three overs as James moved into the nineties. Shortly after, Avendano brought up his fourth half century of the season from 64 balls with a trademark four hit hard through the field. James followed suite in the next over with a well stuck drive through the covers for four to bring up his maiden first grade ton from 207 balls. James and Avendano took the score to 269, a partnership of 150 for the second wicket, with James dismissed for 125. His innings included 13 fours and a six. A couple of big shots gone wrong saw the demise of the next two batsmen as the Bears looked to finish the game quickly. Wicketkeeper-batsman George Lavelle (19 not out) sealed the victory for Norths with his captain stranded at the other end on 95 not out, the second successive game that the pair have seen the Bears through to victory. Avendano, who has only been dismissed four times in seven innings, now leads the Premier Cricket first grade batting aggregate with 444 at 111, with James in fifth on 384 runs and Bryant 11th on 354.

As an aside, Jack visited Reggie the bat maker last week – the father of Brad Taylor, opening quick for Parramatta – to have his bat fixed. Reggie said it would take a week to be repaired and Jack said he wanted to use it on the weekend so did not leave the bat. Instead he taped it up. On scoring the hundred Reggie, who was at the ground, remarked ‘lucky I didn’t take your bat in to be fixed this week’.

2nd Grade UTS North Sydney vs Parramatta at Bon Andrews Oval

Parramatta 7d/422 (AA Shaikh 3/114, N Naguleswaran 3/117) def  UTS North Sydney 245 (RD Alexander 117, J Hardy 31, N Naguleswaran 24)

Despite a hot week, North Sydney No. 2 had a thick covering of grass and plenty of moisture in it. The first session would be crucial if the Bears were to chase down 400+ runs. Unfortunately, there was a lot of life in the wicket and this gave the opposition a huge advantage when we were chasing a big total. Losing the three early wickets of James Leary (0), Ahmer Ahmir (6) and Broc Hardy (6) all to seaming balls did not help our cause. It was advantage Parramatta at 3/16 after 7 overs.

Ray r7

A brief period of consolidation between Jake Hardy and Max Papworth moved the score to 44 before Papworth (7) fell to an unlucky catch down the legside. Jake Hardy showed strong resistance with a tough 31 before he fell to a dubious LBW, the second of three such decisions in what was a challenging day. When captain Glenn Aitken was bowled for 7 runs things became dire, and at 6/71 Parramatta may have expected the Bears to lie down

However, the batman did not give it away with Ray Alexander (pictured)  and Niranjan Naguleswaran working hard to take the team to the lunch break with the score at 6/92. After lunch, Ray and Niranjan continued the fight back. They showed very tight defence and took advantage of the loose ball as they pushed the total forward and kept the Bears in the contest. Niranjan batted well and was unlucky to be caught on the boundary for 24. The pair had put on a fifty run stand, the best of the game for the red and black team. However, with only four wickets in the sheds, 300 runs to go and more than 50 overs left in the day, even the draw appeared to be out of reach.

Nonetheless, Alexander continued his excellent form and pushed past his third fifty for the season from four innings in second grade. It was a masterclass in control and discipline and he showed exactly how to bat to the conditions. He was supported into the middle session by Ali Shaikh, who continues to impress with his batting. However another LBW saw Ali dismissed for 16.

Ray kept his cool as the opposition lost composure. The Two Blues became frustrated at their inability to dismiss him and adopted a much more aggressive approach. They used a bowling ploy where their opening bowler came around the wicket and directed all balls around the head.  Ray dealt with the “short stuff” calmly and when it didn’t work they continued the barrage against debutant Nuwan White. This drew much comment from the crowd watching at No. 2. However, this introduction to second grade gave Whyte the opportunity to show his “steel” as he saw off the attack. Nuwan was able to support Ray as he freely scored against the discipline Parramatta attack. 

Ray’s hundred was an excellent innings in the conditions and well deserved. It underlines his recent form and talent and was his maiden Second Grade century (see video inset at top).

Unfortunately, Nuwan (16) was dismissed early in the last session. Ray was the last man out for a fantastic 117 from 216 balls, leaving Sam Alexander on a promising 5 not out at the end of the day. Ray’s knock kept the draw alive into the 84th over. He has now scored 274 runs at 91 and has moved inside the top 10 batting aggregates for the grade despite playing the first three rounds in third grade. 

In all it was a disappointing day for the team. Too many early wickets in the first session made it too difficult for the side to recover, despite an extraordinary innings from Ray Alexander.

3rd Grade UTS North Sydney vs Parramatta at Merrylands Oval

Parramatta 8d/300 (H May 3/38, F May 2/63) drew UTS North Sydney (JD Vilensky 114, D Thorat 78)

Jordan r7

With a big run chase ahead, the openers made a slow but solid start before Jamie Shaw fell in the 10th over chopping on. From there, Dhruva Thorat and a clearly unwell Jordan Vilensky (pictured) began dismantling Parramatta’s bowling attack. The pair dominated the bowling, batting together for nearly four hours, with Jordan bringing up his maiden grade hundred (see video inset at top). In the 62nd over, Dhruva got an inside edge on a leg glance and was unlucky to be fired by the umpire for an excellent 78 off 178 balls, ending the partnership at 194.  

It must be noted that Thorat and Vilensky’s partnership of 194 is:

i) the best in the team nudging out the 184 run 6th wicket partnership that Chris Lloyd and Jacob Graham scored against Mosman in Round 3;

ii) the highest second wicket partnership in 3rd Grade so far this year and;

iii) the highest partnership for any wicket in the UTS North Sydney club in 2019/20, just piping Jack James and Ben Bryant’s 193 against Mosman, also in Round 3.

The loss of the second wicket triggered a collapse, as the Bears looked to chase down the remaining 85 runs required from the 18 overs available. The team fell from 1/216 to 8/256 in the space of 10 overs.  Vilensky fell in this period for 114 off 164 balls. It was a shame that the boys were unable to capitalise on the hard work done earlier in the day. However, it did create some excitement as Fletcher May and Ben Knox batted out the last seven pressure-filled overs to force a draw. Norths finished up 8/268 and will rue the lost opportunity. The draw leaves the team in 15th position, two wins out of the top 6. We travel to Fairfield Oval next week to play a team one point ahead of us on the ladder. Grabbing six points before the Christmas break will be vital to staying alive in the competition.

4th Grade UTS North Sydney vs Parramatta at Tunks Park

UTS North Sydney 9d/131 (B Kumar 40, LA Hodge 34*) def Parramatta 123 (S Vohra 3/14, R Brown 3/22, FJ Noack 2/10, B Kumar 2/40) and 3/47 (R Brown 2/13, N Stokes 1/9).

We arrived at Tunks Park with six wickets in the sheds needing a further 40 runs for the win on first innings. We lost youngster Hamish Reynolds for the addition of two runs to slip to 5/86. The Parramatta bowling attack created plenty of pressure and made it difficult to score. Baran Kumar (40) combined with Liam Hodge for a vital 27 run partnership for the 6th wicket to edge the Bears closer to the target. Hodge continued to play his strokes, providing the impetus for the innings and taking the attack to the bowlers. After passing the opposition score 7 down and claiming first innings points we fell in a hole, losing two quick wickets. Captain Lawrence decided to declare on 9/131 so as not to waste any further overs. Hodge survived the collapse and finished up 34 not out.

Nathaniel Stokes and Ross Brown opened the bowling for the home side and it didn’t take long before the wickets started to tumble. Once Parramatta had drawn with our score, Brown picked up two poles with catches to Hodge and Reynolds to have Parra 2/9 off 6. Stokes chimed in with a third in the next over with another catch to Reynolds, giving the Bears a faint hope of ripping into the Two Blues line up. Some stubborn batting and a very flat Tunks wicket led to the decision to call the match with Parramatta ahead by 38 runs and 22 overs in the day to go. As an aside, Ross Brown needs to be congratulated for taking five for the match on his fourth grade debut with three in the first and two in the second innings.

While the win was pleasing, there is still plenty of improvement left in this team. In order for the 4s team to string wins together and demonstrate the ruthlessness of a team that is a finals contender, the batting unit needs to lift. The batting group must work harder and focus on the simple things such as looking for singles, smarter running between wickets and ensuring that the bad ball is put away.  The six points are welcome, but there are still a couple of gears left in this team, if all within the team aspire to the same goal and show the same desire.

5th Grade UTS North Sydney vs Parramatta at Castlewood Oval

UTS North Sydney 267 (A Shaikh 53, C Madala 47, C Goddard 43, I Merlehan 29, O Jennings 29) def Parramatta 239 (I Merlehan 5/79, J Thomas 4/36)

On arrival at Castlewood Oval for Day 2 the equation was simple for 5s - defend 267 by taking 10 Parra wickets. What we didn’t expect was the wrong pitch on the square being prepared!! Whilst the pitch itself was fine, we were now on the other edge of the square resulting in the boundary to the eastern part of the ground being very short. Added to this, skipper Pat Lindsay had injured his hamstring during Day 1 and was unable to bowl. In his stead, vice captain Jack Thomas took the reigns, noting Jack himself was under the weather, battling the flu. 

Izaak r7

Parra started well by advancing to 1/110 before Thomas struck in the 31st over removing the set number 3. This triggered a mini-collapse, with Izaak Merlehan (pictured) taking his first wicket a few overs later. In the next over Thomas picked up the opener who was also well set and at 4/115 it was game on. With two new batsmen at the crease, Merlehan bowled in tandem with Thomas putting the batsman under pressure. Merlehan, who had bowled unchanged from the 16th over, then took a sharp catch off his own bowling in the 42nd over and then another wicket adjudged LBW to reduce Parramatta to 6/143 in the 48th.

A solid 7th wicket stand of 57 advanced the score to 6/200 and the Bears were beginning to get concerned.  However, that man Merlehan got two quick ones, both caught by Archie Wright at square leg. In a flash it was 8/204 with the Bears looking to close out the Parramatta innings. Skipper Thomas, bowling on fumes, then got the key wicket of the hard hitting #9 Gillies, bowled for 54, followed by the final wicket LBW. Parra were all out 239 with 4 overs left in the day and 28 runs less than our total from the previous week.

Izaak Merlehan was a standout performer for his marathon 31 over spell with 7 maidens and 5 wickets for 79 to go with his 29 runs last week. It is the second time in his North Sydney career that Izaak has taken a five-fa in fifth grade. Merlehan was ably supported by opening quick Jack Thomas, who put in a captain’s performance with 4 wickets from his 17 overs.

It was a good win in the circumstances as the boys move onto Fairfield, now ensconced in the top 6, in fourth place and three points off ladder leaders Sutherland.

Pictures and footage courtesy of Tony Johnson, David James, Sarah Berman, Christin Hohne, James Leary, Jeff Vilensky and team captains.