Week 24 Wrap vs Gordon, Manly, Parramatta and Sydney

Brewer Shield Grand Final: UTS North Sydney v Sydney at Birchgrove Oval

UTS North Sydney 154 (49.1 Overs) (S Julien 66) def by Sydney 6/171cc (S Kuncham 2/30)

Birchgrove Oval was the venue for the 2022-23 Brewer Shield Grand Final between the second placed UTS North Sydney team and the minor premiers, Sydney. The Bears were greeted with a harbour shrouded in a thick blanket of fog and an outfield glistening with morning dew. After the obligatory photos, the coin toss fell our way and our girls took to the field.

The opening attack of Madeleine Winslow and Georgia MacDonald took the new rock once again and immediately settled into good line and length against Sydney’s strong opening partnership. Runs were hard to come by for the batters, so only twenty runs were on the board after eight overs. The Bears were finally rewarded with a wicket in the tenth over, with Karman Jawanda taking a nice grab behind the stumps from the bowling of Georgia. The Sydney players then dug in to build a partnership as the Bears introduced Sam Kuncham and Shlioh Julien into the attack. Sydney made their way to 1 for 47 off 16 overs at the first drinks break.

As the overs rolled by, the Sydney batters became more comfortable and the runs began to flow. It is often said that one wicket changes everything. Well, the Bears snagged two in quick succession. The first can be chalked up to an excellent piece of fielding from Liz Buckley. She had the presence of mind to change direction during her throwing action and target the bowler’s end after the Sydney batters had a calling mix up. The throw was deftly gathered by Emily Aitken who covered the remaining metres and threw down the stumps. A threatening partnership broken. The third wicket came shortly after as Emily bamboozled the first drop, hitting her on the back pad and trapping her LBW on the stroke of drinks. Sydney were now 3 for 89 at the second drinks break.

Spin was then introduced from the other end in the form of Anjali Uthappa. Both bowlers created chances, with a number of near misses. A skidding delivery after several well flighted pills by Anjali finally did the trick, with the number five batter succumbing to the temptation of playing across the line. The stumps were inevitably scattered and Sydney stumbled to 4 for 104. However, the in-form number four batter was proving to be an obstacle, playing with power and patience. The third drink break saw a total of 139 after 41 overs.

Sam was reintroduced into the attack and bowled well in concert with Shiloh, making the Sydney batters fight for every run. The overs ticked away until a return catch in the forty-sixth to Sam removed the final top order player for Sydney. With this threat removed, the batting team were 5 for 151. Into the tail and Sydney needing runs, Sam again had success targeting the stumps as a cross bat slog resulted in a drag on and another wicket. Sydney were 6 for 157 in the 47th and proceeded to edge their way to 171 in their allotted overs, a total that was very getable on a wicket that was now playing well, with a raging hot sun overhead and a quick outfield beneath our feet.

The Bears made a positive start with the stick as Liz Buckley opened the account with a powerful drive crashed through the off side. She proceeded to hammer another boundary before being run out for a run-a-ball ten with the total at fourteen. That brought Sam to the crease to join Shiloh and a partnership flourished. This pair escorted the total to fifty before Sam was controversially adjudged caught behind or possibly LBW from an off spinning delivery that appeared to strike her hip. The Bears went to the first drinks break at 2 for 57 in the seventeenth over.

The recommencement to play brought bad news for the Bears as Adelaide Hicks chipped a ball firmly to short cover. Kayla Robson was the next batter to stride to the middle and her arrival was greeted with a flurry of boundaries by Shiloh. Kayla then joined in the action, lofting a four over the off side and then began to hit the sweepers and churn singles. This pair pushed the total along to 3 for 78 at the halfway point of the innings. Kayla struck a towering ball that was neatly caught by the deep square leg fielder whose momentum then carried her over the boundary. A six to the total and a sigh of relief from Bears supporters. The total had grown to ninety-five and Shiloh raised her bat for a half century before Kayla went back to the well and this time holed out to the same boundary rider for seventeen. The fielder this time paid particular attention to the location of the boundary marker.

Eva Jenns then joined Shiloh at the crease and the Bears passed the hundred just before the drinks break after the thirty-fourth over. The score ticked over with predominantly ones for several overs amid some tight bowling and committed fielding from the Sydney team. Pressure began to build upon the pair which in turn drew a false shot from Shiloh. Her innings ended on 66, with the total on 5 for 114, when she miscued a lofted on drive and was beautifully caught by a sliding mid wicket fielder. This was a crucial blow and a turning point in the match.

Isabel Selems came out in a positive frame of mind and rode her luck from the outset, swinging hard and scampering through for singles in order to break the shackles. This adventurous running led to Eva being run out at the bowler’s end on a tight leg bye, making the Bears 6 for 118. The run rate was climbing alarmingly by this point. Emily then joined Isabel and after scampering through for a single, attempted to launch the fast bowler over mid wicket, resulting in a drag on and the Bears stuttering at 7 for 122. Circumstances necessitated Isabel to keep going hard, drawing a top edge that was comfortably accepted by the keeper.

Madeleine and Georgia were not in the least disheartened by the tumble of wickets. They set to work righting the ship, giving every shot all they had. This lower order partnership produced numerous ones, twos and a couple of much needed boundaries. The bears inched up to 8 for 143 with three overs remaining. Georgia finally holed out to mid off after a well made run-a-ball 18. Madeleine continued to bat with aggression as she was joined by Karman and the pair continued to valiantly chip away at the total. The run chase finally came to an end on 154 with Karman run out attempting to keep up with the run rate.

The Sydney team were jubilant winners who survived a courageous challenge from a formidable Bears team. Our girls demonstrated excellent determination and self belief to keep coming back and staying in the fight after several setbacks, with a mere eighteen runs proving to be the winning margin. Even the most discerning observer would find it difficult to split the two teams with the bat or the ball, but Sydney’s fielding prowess proved to be the deciding factor in a thrilling grand final. Congratulations to Michelle and the team on such a stellar season. Few would argue that our club has made a compelling statement this year, rising from the turmoil and exodus inflicted upon us from the powers that be. It would now be more advisable than ever for other clubs to ‘Beware the Bear!’

3rd Grade Qualifying Final: UTS North Sydney v Manly Warringah at Grahams Reserve

UTS North Sydney 98 (51.5 Overs) (F Nixon Tomko34) def by Manly Warringah 163 (68.1 Overs) (N Whyte 4/58, T Laybutt 2/23, N Desai 2/24, B Wilson 2/26) & 5/85 (B Wilson 2/10)

The Mighty 3rd Grade arrived at Grahams Reserve for the Qualifying Final vs Manly keen to advance further in the finals series.

A green pitch was prepared and when Manly won the toss, the skipper expected to be asked to bat. However, the Manly skipper stuck to finals convention, and as the higher ranked team, elected to bat first.

Utilising the seaming wicket the Bears struck early reducing Manly to 3-7 quickly with all wickets taken by Nuwan Whyte. Manly consolidated with a solid 4th wicket partnership of 55 which the largest of the game and a crucial one considering the conditions.

However, shortly after the lunch the Bears struck removing both the #3 and #5 to be right in the hunt with Manly 5-62. But again Manly snuck away to 5-112 this time helped by some dropped chances by the Bears. Brad Wilson got a double breakthrough as did Nihal Desai and Manly were in trouble at 9-136. But for the third time they put a partnership together - this time for a crucial 27 runs for the 10th wicket.

Ultimately Manly we’re dismissed for 163 with the seamers doing damage. Nuwan Whyte (4-58 off 21 overs) was the pick of the bowlers and was well supported by Toby Laybutt (2-23 off 16.1 overs) and Brad Wilson (2-26 off 14 overs). Nihal Desai (2-24 off 6) helped wrap up the tail with his leg spin.

Finn Nixon Tomko and Cam New strode to the wicket with 25 overs left in the day and got off to a solid start, seeing off the opening bowlers and advancing the score to 21 before New was caught behind for 5. This triggered a collapse with Thomas and Reynolds both dismissed for ducks and the Bears teetering at 3-43.

Finn (34) was batting fluently and was a big threat to Manly before he was dismissed caught behind off the first ball from the newly introduced Trewartha. From here the Bears survived to stumps with 2 nightwatchmen in Whyte and Laybutt at the crease and the score at 4-44.

The nightwatchmen held their own on day 2 soaking up balls and Manly energy before Whyte was dismissed LBW for 1 off 40 balls. Unfortunately wickets fell regularly including Laybutt for a brave 9 off 94 balls. Oscar Jago-Lewis gave the Bears some belief with his 24* but no other Bears could partner with him, falling to some quality Manly bowling. The Bears were bowled out for 98 in the last over before lunch.

Manly were asked to bat again and the seamers toiled hard with Laybutt removing one opener with a cracking delivery. Hamish Reynolds bowled an impressive spell removing the #3 and Brad Wilson gave 100% taking 2 poles to reduce Manly to 5 for 56 at tea. Unfortunately the Bears needed a miracle after tea which didn’t eventuate and stumps were called with Manly 5-85 and 150 in front and less than 30 overs remaining in the day.

6th placed Penrith defeated 1st place Randwick Petersham which meant it was season over for the Bears. The Bears had the best of the conditions in this match but were unable to make it count with the bat.

4th Grade Qualifying Finals: UTS North Sydney v Gordon at Chatswood Oval

UTS North Sydney 136 (81.4 Overs) (K Karan 28, R Broom 26) def by Gordon 8/39 (52.5 Overs) (J Graham 5/39)

Business end of the season is here and the Bears pumped to be relatively local at the immaculate Chatswood Oval. Hot weather greeted both teams, and settled in for the two days. With a bit of rain earlier in the week, the deck was a bit spicy and upon winning the toss, the Gordon skipper had no hesitation sending the Bears in.

Singh and Nigul were as persistent as ever, seeing off some classy new ball bowling from the Stags quicks, who beat the bat numerous times, but were unable to penetrate the resolute defences of Singh and Nigul. The pair almost achieved the goal of none down out drinks before Nigul got a rip snorter that left him off a length and was caught behind the over before drinks.

Canberra and Greenies prodigy Hogan walked out to the crease, and continued the plan with Singh, working the ball around and playing cautiously, with the ball still doing a bit. Again, the pair did all the hard work until Hogan was run out trying to sneak a quick single to cover, again just before the break. First session honours even at 2 for 40.

Post lunch, Singh and Graham set about lifting the scoring rate, however Singh was caught at midwicket after a patient 21 off 122 rocks. Karan strode to the wicket and with his natural game, scoring started to come at a higher rate. Both however ended up chipping balls to cover, with the pitch still a little two paced.

Broom and Perry settled in for the afternoon and began taking the attack to the Gordon spin duo who were trying to dry the runs up. Again, Broom caught at cover and Perry was unlucky with one that didn’t bounce off the pitch.

Cole was resolute batting with the tail and managed to scratch out a few more runs while batting with Kumar, Merlehan and Charles. The Bears dismissed an hour after tea for 136, not enough, but something to play with.

Confident with the bowling attack, Charles and Graham set about getting into their work. However, they were met with a counter punch from a Gordon opener who was content playing his shots and chancing his arm. Graham picked him and the other opener up, caught by Perry and Kumar respectively, to have the hosts 2 for 50 odd over night.

The Bears returned to Chatswood with one thing in mind, taking the 8 remaining wickets. And when Charles struck in the third over of the day with a great catch at gully by Nigul, tails were up and belief was high.

Another small partnership for the Stags threatened to take the game away from Norths, however, Graham then Merlehan struck, removing the night watchmen and the skipper in quick succession. Kumar then removed their dangerous number 6 before lunch, leg before bowling round the wicket, to put the cat amongst the pigeons, giving the hosts 40 minutes to ponder how they will get the final 7 runs.

A little too much pondering time as it would seem, with Graham nicking off both set batsmen in the first over after lunch, both caught Perry. Absolute scenes, could they pull off the unthinkable?

2 wickets and 6 runs required. Nail biting and gut wrenching, great for the neutral watching on the frogbox at home in the aircon, whilst these two north shore giants battle it out in the sweltering heat.

Kumar was to bowl the second over post lunch, and a couple of oohs and aahs to start the over, and with 3 balls left, a half chance, going just wide of mid on to the fence for four. Another day that goes to hand, however this seemed to be the decisive moment in the game, with the next ball also going for four, and Gordon seeing their way through to the Semi’s. Graham with an absolute Herculean effort, 20 overs in the searing heat and five important poles to secure his maiden five wicket haul for the club.

Not the result the team wanted, but to take a game that deep when no one would give you a chance to win was outstanding. The heart and determination of the side left a positive feel in the change room, and when the news came through that Manly and Parramatta had won, the mood was if a win was secured.

Next week a do or die clash with Manly in Waratah heartland awaits with a place in the big dance on the line.

5th Grade Qualifying Final: UTS North Sydney v Parramatta at Bon Andrews Oval

UTS North Sydney 169 (72 Overs) (M Lloyd 90, O Jennings 31) & 6/51 (38.3 Overs) def Parramatta 154 (60.2 Overs) (T Cole 3/31, A MacGill 3/45, E Omar 2/31) & 3/115d (18 Overs)

Outrageous Fortune

5th Grade managed to narrowly avoid disaster from the Jaws of Victory late Sunday morning.

After winning the toss and electing to bowl in what would turn out to be a crucial factor in the 2 days of play, 5th grade managed to use the best of the conditions to have Parramatta 5 wickets down at lunch after a streaky, leaky start. Alex MacGill (3/45 from 21 overs) bowled 18 overs straight including a full morning session to put 5s ahead of the game and after the break Tom Cole (3/31 from 10 overs) managed to clean up the rear guard in quick fashion leaving the visitors to defend 154.

The everlasting brilliance of M Lloyd and the never ending tenacity of Jennings had the bears sitting pretty over night and well into day two of play. At 1/141 chasing this total at Bon Andrews one would be forgiven into thinking the remaining 9 batsmen in the team could score the remaining 14 runs for victory; and that is exactly what happened.

Triumphantly; 5s marched past Parramatta only 8 wickets down. When the home captain was asked about the lost 7 wickets for 11 runs it was said that there was only a slight narrowing of his eyelids but a vast sea of troubles nestled closely behind his gaze.

Instead of shaking hands at lunch and shuffling off that mortal coil, Parramatta now wished devoutly to compete, to bat: perchance to reverse: ay, theres the rub...

Parramatta came right back into the match and like all good finals teams tested 5s and made it very difficult for any Bear to be comfortable about winning on first innings. In the second innings they batted well to set 5s a target of 101 in 39 overs to which survival was only assured on the final over of Sunday to the tune of six wickets down.

I cant speak more highly of the competitive display Parramatta put on after being so far out of the game so early and to come back with such quality, relentless bowling and smart batting to almost beat the Bears in a prolonged game is truly a wonderful reflection on their club and the spirit in which cricket should be played.

The defiance of Jennings, M & C Lloyd and Vanapaluma across the two innings was resolute and the backbone of the victory, the three facing over 70% of the balls bowled at the North Sydney batting unit.

5th grade will have learned many lessons from the 192 overs suffered over the weekend and will be diligently preparing for more slings and arrows against Northern Districts at Tunks this week.

Media courtesy of Tony Johnson, Malcolm Trees, MTV Photo Sydney, Jeff Williamson, Greg Buckley, Adam Cavenor and UTS North Sydney members.