‘A game of two halves’ is as tired as a sporting cliche gets, but rather apt when describing what happened in this game. Coming into the game, the Gold team knew that a win would virtually guarantee them a spot in the finals. Even though the toss was lost, the pitch at St Paul’s was flat, hard and unused from the previous day. Will Dodd (25) and Neale Crawford gave the team a rapid start, before 3 wickets quickly fell. John Stewart joined the younger Dodd and the mixture of youth and experience took the score to 49. From there, the batting unraveled (spectacularly in the opposition and neutral’s eyes) as the team lost 7 wickets for 10 runs. Most of the wickets were avoidable, as the batting unit sold themselves grossly short with a score of 59 before the tea break.
For the first 20 overs of the defense, the Golds put up the fight that had given them the success so far this season. Jackson Dodd was almost impossible to score off, and Ashish Bhat bowled at difficult angles and was rewarded with a caught behind. Until the score was passed, the Uni students never looked comfortable, with Will hitting a good channel and Valmik Ahire sending down his rockets. Unfortunately, once the score was passed, the pressure released and the student made hay in the afternoon sun. Lines strayed, fielding went off the boil and balls were lost in the mounds surrounding St Paul’s. Hewa-Gamage (3-59) did at least manage to punctuate proceedings with two stunning leg-spinning deliveries that would have made Shane Warne proud – the first almost Gatting-eqsue that only just pecked the off-bail on the cheek while the second pitched on leg and beat the batsman’s sweep to hit off stump. The only respite for the Golds was that the slow over rate in the morning meant that they weren’t sent back in – the day finishing with Sydney Uni on 5-196 and leading by 137 runs.
Following on from one of the team’s most disappointing performances, the group came together on the second morning with a simple plan and much renewed positivity. With the students declaring before the start of play, the plan was the treat the deficit as their target for the day, then reassess once it was passed. Even though Will fell early in the day, Dr Asif Rasheed (73) and Neale Crawford took the team to a far more positive start than the previous week. Having threatened to burst in has last few innings, the good Doctor finally got the running in his favour, as he took apart the student’s attack in humid conditions. It was their turn to search for balls in the over-grown shrubbery, as one particularly impressive flick off the pads almost ended up on Fisher rd. Neale was the perfect foil, seeing off the ball from the other end to allow for a breather. While nowhere near the calamitous collapse of the previous week, Uni sensed a way back into the game when they nabbed a few before tea to have the game in the balance at 5-127, Gold still needing 10 runs to make Uni bat again.
What followed after tea was not only important for turning around the result from last week and building momentum for the remainder of the season, but important for the future of Randwick Petersham. Hewa-Gamage (38) was joined by Jordan Segal, and the pair blunted the attack for 17 overs and 60 runs – inching the team to safety – before the former played around straight one, having at least played himself into form. But having kept the students out in the humidity for 54 overs, Jordie and good mate Jackson were able to pounce on the weary fielding side and plunder 47 runs in 9 overs, with Jordie bringing up his second half century in three innings. After Jackson fell, there were still 17 overs left in the day. With the Uni skipper refusing to make the call, and having survived two dropped catches in the 30s, Jordie sensed his opportunity for big runs against a team that no longer wanted to be out there. In the company of the ever patient E-Young ‘Pingu’ Khoo, the 14 year old younger Segal powered from 64 to his first ever century in cricket with a boundary over midwicket and five overs left in the day. A local junior who would come to watch his older brother play, it was a pleasure to see him take his opportunities in men’s cricket so far.
The Gold team finished the second day at a respectable 8-287; a significant improvement over the previous week, the momentum will hopefully bode us well in a must-win encounter against North West Sydney next round and for the future of our young players coming through.
Jeremy Jastrzab (C)