After a long preseason the 1st XI were eager to begin their premiership defence. The fixture pitted us against rivals and last seasons preliminary final opponent Essendon; a game made all the more important due to the Paul Hibbert Trophy being on the line. To cap off the round 1 excitement, curator and new recruit Simmo Branston was handed a First XI debut.
After a brief ceremony to unfurl the premiership flag from last season, we lost the toss and were asked to bat first on a typically beautiful Princes Park wicket. However, Essendon managed to capitalise on some early movement and remove Gulbis for a duck in just the second over. Despite this, Brayden Stepien (32 off 30) and Mackenzie Harvey (14 off 22) put together a counter punching 40 run partnership to take us to 1-50. Then disaster struck, Stepien was straggled down leg side and Harvey was oddly run out, before the rest of the batting order crumbled as we were bowled out for 75 in just the 25th over.
Wanting to be aggressive and trying to bring ourselves back into the game, opening bowlers Xavier Crone and Cam Stevenson (2/31) came out firing. However, as is often the case when trying to be ultra aggressive, we leaked runs and Essendon were able to real in the target in the 11th over. The only highlight being two Stevenson wickets.
A tough day against a strong opposition, we will look to bounce back when we tackle Melbourne Uni next week.
The 2nd XI travelled to Windy Hill to tackle a strong Essendon outfit. Nick Woods was selected for his club debut, while Jack Cook’s hard work throughout preseason was rewarded with a maiden 2nd XI cap.
After first time skipper Jack O’Shea lost the toss the openers padded up and we were batting on what looked to be a good track. A cautious start by Lachie McKenna and Jack Mattsson took us to 0/24 after 8 overs. However, a horror three over period saw the side reduced to 3/34. Despite a dangerous looking partnership between top scorer Kyle Scheepers (40) and Anderson Matthews, our innings never really got going; all out for 153 in the penultimate over. Only Matthew Wilson (31) and Kyle providing innings of substance.
After a short break it was our turn to have a crack at the Essendon batters. However, some aggressive batting on their part saw the opening partnership reach 80 in rapid time. The introduction of Scheepers (2/20) saw two quick wickets fall and Essendon sit precariously at 2/96. However, they put together another partnership and it wasn’t until scores were level that Nick Woods picked up our 3rd wicket, as Essendon comfortably chased our target inside 30 overs.
The only victorious side from the round 1 weekend, the 3rd XI put a disappointing 2018/19 campaign behind them as they comfortably knocked over the Bombers at home.
Welcoming Nikhil Pottabathini and Jai Lemire to the club, and Harry Trenwith who played his first game in the threes. New captain Sam Connop lost the toss and we were bowling on a typically flat Princes Park #2 wicket.
However, this didn’t bother the 3rds bowling attack as Todd Marchant (2/31), Trenwith and Ryan O’Keefe (2/42) all picked up early wickets to leave Essendon struggling at 3/34. Unfortunately though the moment stopped and Essendon put together an 135 run partnership. Some late wickets dragged moment back out way, but Essendon eventually closed their innings at 9/217. A more then respectable score.
The total looked even more daunting when Andrew Poppa departed early, however, a counter punching Abhishek Faria (112) and a patient Tom Mileto (51) set about rebuilding the innings. Once the partnership got going there was nothing the Essendon bowlers could do, as Faria dispatched anything loose on his way to a 3rd hundred for the club and Mileto found gaps at will on his way to a half century. Although both boys were eventually dismissed the damage was already done and skipper Connop (21) and Jonno Crowe saw the thirds over the line just three wickets down.
Due to ground unavailabilities, the 4th XI journeyed out to Windy Hill on Sunday to tackle the Essendon side they defeated in last years grand final. As is always the case in the first 4th XI game of the year, we welcomed a number of debutants; congratulations to Tom Starr, Manav Kumar, Jordan Bastian and Tyler Stewart!
After losing the toss, we were in the field in pristine conditions. However, despite some early play and misses and a few half shouts, the Essendon openers took charge of the game with the score racing to 0/157. Despite a Matt Vine (2/48) wicket to break the partnership, Essendon pushed on to reach a mammoth 4/243 off their 45 overs. There was a late highlight however, as Manav Kumar captured his first wicket for the Blues late in the innings.
Eager to get the season off to a winning start, openers Liam Connop (31) and Izan Shaikh (35) raced out of the blocks, comfortably scoring at the required rate. Despite this positive start, 3 wickets in quick succession saw the Blues reduced to 3/75. A magnificent partnership between Tom Starr (75) and Connor Braniff (32) wrestled the momentum back and left us needing just under 7 an over from the last 10 overs. However, in the pursuit of quick runs disaster struck as we lost 3 wickets in an over, including both Starr and Braniff. With no set batsman left at the crease, our run chase petered out and we were eventually bowled out for 219 in the 44th over.