(Back Row) Stephen Rose, Sandeep Nagarjan, Tim Grellman, Josh Martin, Richard Cann, Mohammed Ismail
(Front Row) Brushan Rele, Clyne Fernandes, Harish Munikrishna, Greg Brown, Reza Bilimoria
FINAL: Macquarie University 122 and 74 defeated Epping 56 and 124.
Full Scorecard: Coming soon.
Having not lost a game since round 2 of the season, subsequently attaining the minor premiership, and accounting for Burwood in the semi-final, the team went into the grand-final with high hopes against a fast finishing Epping side. The MUCC team boasted plenty of experience with Messers Bilimoria, Brown and Fernandes the correct side of 50. Against this, Epping put up Club president Matthew Boorer and Brett Papworth; both having big years with the bat.
With torrential rain falling the night before, both teams arrived at Tunks Park not knowing what to expect. What we found was a curator working furiously to ready the pitch and outfield for play. Due to his efforts, the game was able to start with no loss of playing time, albeit with a wicket that could best be described as sticky. It was no surprise that, when Epping won the toss, MUCC were invited to bat first.
As expected on a slow, damp wicket, batting was difficult. It was a day to graft. The best of the grafters were Tim Grellmen (20), Richie Cann (25) and Reza Bilimoria (21) being the only batsman to break 20. It took 78 overs to scrape together a defendable but by no means safe 122 runs.
Epping’s chase began on a pitch that was only marginally better for batting. An early wicket fell to Mohammed Ismail with the score on 5. Then, with the score on 8, Epping lost three wickets, an lbw to Greg Brown followed by the two big wickets to Ismail, the first, Boorer, who drilled a cover drive to Richard Cann, making a difficult catch look easy. And then Papworth, who looked to have comfortably covered the ball heard the stumps clatter behind him. 4 for 8 limped to 4 for 20 by the end of the first day’s play.
Epping still felt confident, at least outwardly, that they had the 100 odd runs covered. Conversely, the MUCC boys had had a whole season’s experience of defending low scores and were likewise upbeat about their prospects.
Overnight again saw a deluge of rain hit Sydney. Again we arrived to see the groundsman, whom we cannot praise enough for his efforts, working overtime to get the game underway. As the morning session panned out, the MUCC boys made short work of the remaining Epping line-up for 56. The last 6 wickets falling for 36 runs with Ismail (16-6-5-24) taking a five-for, Brown (18-11-3-25) bowling unchanged and Bilimoria (1.1-1-2-0) taking 2 for 0 off 7 balls.
Sixty six runs was a sizable lead in the context of this game. However, with nothing to lose, Epping invited us to have another bat. The game plan simple – bat out the rest of the day and Epping out of the game. Simple??? But the cricketing gods are fickle deities. Some good bowling and 6 lbws , all from the same end, later, and we were heading back out to field once again. We had managed to give Epping a leg up back into the game. Scoring 74 off 45 overs, with Stephen Rose (29) being the only batsman to keep the ball out of his pads (ironically) long enough to make double figures.
Epping now required 140 at a rate of around 3 runs an over. As in the first innings, Brown (18-0-4-62) made the early breakthrough. And again, as in the first innings, Epping’s experienced danger men were accounted for in quick succession. Firstly, Papworth being cruelly run out by a yes/no call from his much younger and inexperienced partner, and a cool underarm throw from super sub ex-President, Paul Clift to the bowler. Boorer followed shortly after, being bowled by Ismail. A further wicket saw Epping slump to 4 for 15.
However, unlike the first innings, one of the Epping openers, C. Court (28), stuck in and took the score to 41 before Brown broke through his defences. This initiated a further clatter of wickets; a spell of 3 for 5 saw the students take the ascendancy - 7 for 46.
This is where the game took yet another turn. The aforementioned clatter brought together L. Roper (a game high 44) and R. Balani (18). In a partnership unprecedented in the game to date, the 8th wicket put on 56 at better than the required rate, taking the score to 102 before that man Brown bowled Balani. That man who, after bowling unbroken in the first innings, when suggested by the captain that it was time to take a break, counter- suggested that it was not and continued his lengthy unbroken spell.
Meanwhile, after being required to bowl only a single over in the first innings, the skipper, Harry Munikrishna (10-0-2-35) brought himself on. He elicited the now aggressive Roper to play a lofted drive that was calmly accepted by Ismail to conclude the innings of the match. At 9 for 118, only 22 short of the target, Epping were still in the hunt but needing quick runs. It was this scenario that led to them taking risks with the running between wickets. And it was a risk too far when taking on the accomplished fielding of Richard Cann, a push into the covers was quickly collected and the bowler’s stumps thrown down.
MUCC champions by a mere 16 runs over four tight innings. Man-of-the-Match went to Mohammed (Izzy) Ismail for his first innings five-wicket haul, match bowling of 19-6-7-38 and 22 valuable runs.
See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrI0NxKYr3o for the closing seconds.