Week 2 Wrap vs Sydney

1st Grade Round 2: UTS North Sydney v Sydney at Drummoyne Oval

UTS North Sydney 7/332 (J Avendano 152, M Jenkins 42, T Jagot 35, R Aitken 30*, O Knight 27) vs Sydney

It’s said that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. But we’re getting to the stage where we can add a third: Justin Avendano hundreds. The 14th three-figure score of Justin’s remarkable First Grade career, and fifth in the last year, put the Bears on top during a compelling first day’s play at Drummoyne Oval.

The return to two-day cricket has been long awaited (we don’t count the 120 overs in a day affair against Sutherland last February), as has a match-up with perennial competitors, Sydney, who we avoided in last year’s draw, and it didn’t disappoint. A final score of 7/332 was fewer than we felt it might have been when Avendano was in full flow, but certainly more than we feared after losing three quick wickets after drinks in the final session, and credit is due to Olly Knight and Rob Aitken for smart batting in the final hour.

At the unreasonably early hour of 8.30am, Tom Jagot went 2 from 2 at the toss and elected to bat – what may have felt like a bold call under cloudy skies with a heavy outfield turned out to be a very fine one, but that wasn’t so clear from the early exchanges. Adam Cavenor, promoted from Second Grade to open up, fell early, and was swiftly followed to the sheds by his partner, Brent Atherton, who left one that jagged back after looking good for 19, and the Bears were in a touch of strife at 2/22.

This brought together Avendano and Jagot, who reminded the Tigers why they’re two of the best players in the competition, adapting seamlessly to the format they’ve hardly played for 18 months by blending careful defence with dispatching poor balls. Avendano was particularly ruthless against anything short, smashing several fours into the fence in front of the hill. From the moment he planted young spinner Kain Anderson’s seventh ball over the longest boundary at cow corner to move into the 20s, a big score somehow felt inevitable, but it took until he’d passed 50 after lunch for the acceleration to come: four boundaries in four overs to move to 68 in the blink of an eye.

Jagot played an effective supporting role without finding full fluency, and the pair sailed past the 100 partnership milestone and kept accumulating, until the skipper chipped a ball to mid on at the stroke of drinks, dismissed for 35. Mac Jenkins, fresh from a UK summer of heroics with the bat, joined Avendano and took the best seat in the house as the inevitable ton was secured, off 162 balls with 12 fours and a six. Jenkins took over where Jagot left off, playing a supporting hand and rotating the strike, while hitting a couple of nice fours of his own, and the pair added 108 for the fourth wicket. Avendano brought up his third six to go to 148 then brought up his fifth 150+ score for the Bears, and looked ready for some final hour carnage, but unfortunately missed a straight one from Harry Manenti to end his magnificent innings on 152.

This brough about a momentum shift, with two further wickets falling quickly – Jimmy Greenslade run out after a mix-up with Jenkins that led to both batters being at the same end, and Jenkins himself lbw for 42. At this point, 13 overs were left in the day, the score 6/268 and the day in the balance despite Avendano’s hard work. Enter Olly Knight and Rob Aitken, who turned it in the Bears’ favour, hopefully decisively, with a partnership of 47 off 60 balls. Knight showed the balance of maturity and brutal hitting that characterised his breakthrough season in 2021-22, making a run-a-ball 27 before being bowled, while Aitken (30*) did as he always does – played to the situation, hit poor balls to the boundary and ran like a man half his age. He was joined by his brother, James, in the 94th over and they added a further 16 before the rain came down with the score 7/332 off 95.3, just three balls before the scheduled close.

Bears on top but a lot of work still to do on day 2, when our bowlers will get their first chance in a while for long spells with the red ball. Avendano remarked at the close of play that most of his big hundreds have been in losing causes, including his 171 against Gordon this round last year, so it’s about time to put that right.

2nd Grade Round 2: UTS North Sydney v Sydney at Bon Andrews Oval

UTS North Sydney v Sydney 7/293 (E Oxenham 3/67, F May 2/52)

The Bears returned back to Bon Andrews for a second week in a row in what looked to be a washed out weekend for all grades with la nina coming down hard throughout the week.

Nonetheless a bright and sunny Saturday came around with a delayed start commencing now at 10:00. With the pitch not seeing sunlight for the past 3 days and being quite soft underfoot, Skipper Justin Rodgie won the toss and elected to bowl against a strong Sydney batting line up. A beautiful start from the opening bowlers (Rodgie/Hedges) beating the bat on multiple occasions but unfortunate not to take the edge. Bon Andrews Welcomed back last season's 2nd grade bowler of the year Fletcher May who arrived back from his season over in England a new man some would say. May picked up where he left off taking matters into his own hands finally making the breakthrough dismissing the opener on the pads for the bears first wicket.

After a rough start for Lachlan Roughley, his first wicket was taken dismissing the other opener for what looked to be a throw-away ton. Spirits were low and wickets were scarce with Bon Andrews playing its typical tricks turning into a road later in the day. After constant delay, the ball was thrown to the in-form Everett Oxenham, the young off spinner who returned back into the 2nd grade side in which was proven to be well deserved. Oxenham took 3 wickets for 67 runs off 22 overs including 5 maidens and 2 other promising LBW shouts easily being the pick of the bowlers. A tough day in the paddock for the Bears holding Sydney to 7-293 but some promising performances throughout.

3rd Grade Round 2: UTS North Sydney v Sydney at Birchgrove Oval

No play due to rain

4th Grade Round 2: UTS North Sydney v Sydney at Tunks International Sports Park

No play due to rain

5th Grade Round 2: UTS North Sydney v Sydney at Ryde Oval

No play due to rain

Media courtesy of Adam Cavenor.