On a glorious sun kissed weekend, the cricket Gods smiled on Old Scotch Cricket Club as both teams took on traditional rivals Old Xavier in a blockbuster weekend of cricket. The "A Team" spearheaded by a boundary laden 58 not out by Tom Murray cruised to an emphatic 8 wicket win, while on Sunday the Celebrities inspired by a devil-may-care 87 by skipper Matthew Foskey sealed an excellent 58 run win at the Barkers Road fortress of the Xaverians to help solidify their position in the top four.
Bowling first in the 1st XI game, the Scotchies had the Old Xaverian batsmen in much difficulties as Matty Grose made the initial breakthrough followed quickly by two quick wickets by Will Hayes to leave Old Xavs reeling at 3 for 19. A commendable middle order fight back by Hicks and Nunan threatened to turn the innings back into Old Xavs favour, but some fine bowing from the wily old veteran Gary Bennett and debutant "The Baron" Ed von Moger tore the heart out of the Old Xaverian batting line up to have them skittled for 83 off circa 29 overs. Von Moger was impressive with 3 for 13 and Matty Grose was his usual miserly self with 2 for 9.
All that was left to do was to make the runs to complete victory, and Old Scotch openers Hosking and Murray signalled their intentions immediately that they were not going to mess around, launching into the Old Xavs bowling. Hosking fell for 10 and the score was on 46, and then Shearer fell soon after for 5 and the score 2 for 56, but Tom Murray was batting like a man possessed crashing boundaries at will. Soon enough in league with young gun Ollie McLeish, Murray ended the game emphatically off the first three balls of the 11th over when he belted 2, 4 and finished the game off with a towering six to complete a remarkable victory.
For the Celebrities, taking on Old Xavier at Barkers Road is just about the hardest assignment in the book. Old Xavs always seem to find a way to avoid defeat there. A famous tie, a wash out earlier this season when the Celebrities felt that the game was swinging their way before the heavens opened up, and of course, a number of humbling defeats have marked the rivalry between two fairly evenly matched teams. In recent times, both teams have been undermanned, but on Sunday, both teams fielded line ups that were the best both have mustered for a few years.
Old Xavier won the toss and had no hesitation in inserting Old Scotch on a green looking wicket that for the most part played well. Prolific opener Mark Griffiths was adjudged LBW early for 0, and things did not look good at 1/5. Ed Furey looked classy and looked in complete control, when he inexplicably smacked a full toss to the only fieldsman stationed on the leg side to be dismissed for 13 and the score 2 for 30. Old Xavs were well on top with the ball and when Old Scotch skipper Matt Foskey bunted a simple catch to his opposite number stationed at mid off when he was on 2, all seemed lost. But Edwards spilled the chance, and Foskey thus reprieved batted as if he was a cat with multiple lives. Crashing boundaries, running cheeky singles and generally irritating his team mates with his smug self assuredness. Foskey was sublime. From a dour opening that saw the Scotchies 2 for 40 at drinks, Foskey with able support from Alisdair "Catalogue Model" Reeves, Cal "Smurf" McDonough and lastly from an enterprising Tom "Spike" Edney who batted beautifully, nudging singles to keep the rampaging Foskey on strike, and when Foskey was dismissed for a swashbuckling 87, Edney became more expansive himself, finishing 22 not out.
To total 6 for 188 was a great comeback, but, the Chapel Oval at Xavier has short square boundaries and runs come in a hurry, so 220 was thought to be a par score. But Angus Harlock, as he has done all summer, made early inroads with two early wickets. Harlock is fast establishing himself as the Alan Donald of the MCC 2nd Division as he repeatedly makes early break throughs. Backed by the ever reliable Benny Summerfield, they ad Xavs reeling at 3 for 28. But Old Xavier can never be underestimated as they have recovered from such dire positions in the past. But with a magnificent bowling and fine catching, Old Xavier were left teetering at 8 for 80 and the game as good as gone. Some spirited lower order batting by Forrest, Cleeve and Fitton added an extra 50 runs and a respectable score of 130, but the damage had been done and the Celebrities ran out winners by 58 runs to keep their finals aspirations intact.
The match was played in excellent spirit with honesty and good natured banter being the order of the day, Old Xavier may have been beaten on the day, but they carried themselves with the utmost dignity throughout the contest. Celebration of the day belonged to newcomer Will "Bonners" Bonwick who extended his arms out in albatross fashion after taking his maiden wicket. Onya Bonners!
And so the road show continues with a double header this Sunday at Scotch College, with the "A Team" taking on Old Melbournians and the Celebrities look to turn the tables on Old Wesley in what are sure to be two high class contests. Make your way down to Scotch and give the boys your support. In the mean time...