11.03.2008 – Graham Croker

A timely 150 from Greg Mail helped steady the Sydney University ship against Penrith last weekend and provide the Students with a much-needed win and the first innings points that came with it.

Since accounting for Parramatta in mid-December, Sydney University had played two draws and suffered four losses leading into the match against Penrith at University No.1 Oval.

The losing run saw them slump to third on the competition ladder, a position they hold going into the last competition match of the season – against North Sydney at North Sydney Oval on Saturday.

Not that skipper Mail has let the side down. Indeed, the opposite is the case. His 150, which included 18 boundaries and two sixes, took his tally for the season to 791 at an average of 60.85.

Not quite the dizzying heights of his first season for the club in 2005-06, when he cracked 963 runs at 80.25, but up there with his 2006-07 season when he scored 1225 at 64.47.

Mail and opening partner Ed Cowan, who have been in and out of the NSW side this season, could be joined at North Sydney Oval on Saturday by NSW quick, Mark Cameron. Fresh from routing South Australia in a Pura Cup match last weekend, Cameron has been included in the NSW squad for the Pura Cup final against Victoria, starting at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.

But with the Australian one-day opening attack of Nathan Bracken, Brett Lee and Stuart Clark returning to the Blues, Cameron might well be released to play club cricket.

St George (77) lead the First Grade competition going into the final round, with Eastern Suburbs (69), Sydney University (65), Northern District (57), Sydney (54) and Randwick-Petersham (54) making up the top six.

Sydney University Seconds hold down 7th place on the ladder, with a mathematical chance of squeezing into the top four. Thirds are in 5th place, just two points off fourth-placed Penrith; Fourths hold down 5th place, five points off the pace; and Fifths are equal fourth with Sutherland.

While the men play their final competition round on Saturday, Universities Women’s Cricket Club will contest the final, against Bankstown at Bankstown Oval, commencing at 11am.