This is the last round before Christmas and we play North Sydney in a series of Limited Overs (50 overs a side) matches in all grades this Saturday starting at 10 am at each ground.

We go into this round in 15th place in the Club Championship. And while that’s an improvement of two places following our 80 points against Uni. of NSW last round we are a massive 368 points behind the leader Northern District. NDs have 742 points and we have 374. Having said that, we are only 76 points from 9th placed Easts which should give us a little incentive to aim for a top 10 spot with a few good rounds. North Sydney are behind us in 19th place on 249 points.

1st GRADE is at North Sydney: Last 7 matches: WWDWWLL: Two losses in close games have pushed us out of the top 6 so a big win this round is what we desperately need. We are now 8th on 24 points while Norths are 15th on 18. What is interesting however, is that this clash is between the two highest run-scorers in the competition this season. We have scored most runs—2,261—while North’s are next on 2,246. The 3rd and 5th top run-getters also face off with our Anthony Sams 5th on 678 and Norths Justin Avendano 3rd on 698 in all formats. Josh Clarke from Hawkesbury leads on 824. It’s a bit different in the bowling with our Daniel Sams on top with 28 wickets while North’s best is Robert Aitken with 12 in all formats. Skipper Alex Kemp returns after injury as does Jason Sangha following a successful National under 19 tournament playing for the Cricket Australia XI where he scored 268 runs at 53.60 with a top score of 93. Fast bowler Greg West is out this game.

Congratulations to Anthony Sams who passed 250 (252) 1st Grade wicket-keeping dismissals last weekend while Adam Semple (4,685) and Nathan Price (4,572) both passed 4,500 1st Grade runs. Nathan also brought up 150 games last week while Jake Scicluna needs 47 for 1,500 1st Grade runs.  

If you want to check out the record on anyone who played 1st Grade for the club between 2001 and 2016 go to the club’s website then click on “Club” then “The First Graders”. Details to the end of the 2015-16 season are now up-to-date.

2nd GRADE is at Petersham: Last 7 matches: LLDLWLW: After the brilliant win last round the boys are keen to continue the good form. We are 17th on 12 points while Norths are last having lost all 7 matches. But we should be wary of a “wounded bear”. No time for complacency. The top 6 teams are just 2 wins away and if we can “get on a roll” you never know what can happen come finals time. There are plenty of instances where teams have come from last or near last at Christmas to win the comp. That could be us this year. There’s been nothing between us and Norths over the years with each side having 6 wins. We have won the past 2 but they won the previous 4.

3rd GRADE plays at Bon Andrews (North Sydney 2): Last 7 matches: WLLLTLW: Norths are 10th on 18 points and we are 13th on 15. They have lost their last two matches. Last week they made 251 chasing Easts’ 290 while the match before they went down to Manly after scoring 271. Their batting looks strong. But we won well last start and if our luck has turned the corner we could go on with the job this weekend. History favours us 9 wins to 3 but it is 2-all the past 4.

4th GRADE is at Coogee: Last 7 matches: WWLLLLW: Like 3rd Grade, Norths are 10th on 19 and we are 13th on 18. Both teams are just one win out of the top 6 so plenty to play for this round. Both sides are last start winners with Norths bowling Easts out for 109 but losing 7 wickets to pass the target. One of the umpires in that match was our life member Denis Hinds. In the 12 times these two teams have met we have won 9 times including the first 6. However, it’s 3-all in the last 6. Matt Wallis strengthens the pace attack.

5th GRADE plays at Tunks Park, Northbridge: Last 7 matches: WWLL (LWO) (LWO) (WLO): What an amazing outcome the past three matches! All with the team behind on the first innings winning outright! At least that WON’T happen this round with just one innings each! We are 6th on 28 points and would have been 2nd had we won outright last Saturday being just 4 points out of second. Norths are 17th on 6 with just one win although that came last Saturday when they beat Easts chasing down 246. Over the years the record is 6 wins apiece so they cannot be underestimated.

Metropolitan Cup from Jeremy Jastrzab: After Gold put in a sterling all-round performance to wrap up victory over Green at Marrickville last week, both sides face massive examinations in the final round before Christmas. Gold hold onto 4th spot on the ladder, as teams start to make their moves both sides of them. They’ve got another crack at Penrith, who they let off the hook back in Round 3 and are currently running 2nd. Thankfully the cats are making the trek back to Kensington, where sea breeze should help negate some of the forecast heat. Green are languishing in the latter half of the ladder, but continue to show signs of fight as they head home to Marrickville (and the most comfortable change rooms in Sydney). They’ll have a chance to take on a familiar foe – front-runners Gordon. While Gordon took a full complement of points off Green in Round 6, they themselves lost their first game of the season and will be weary of revenge from the Greens. Both Metro teams are looking for a strong finish heading into Christmas, if only to make sure the Christmas pudding tastes much sweeter.

Lyall Gardner

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