25.03.2008 – Graham Croker
Former Test fast bowler Matthew Nicholson almost single-handedly sent Sydney University reeling from the Sydney Grade Cricket competition on Saturday, when he starred for Gordon with bat and ball in a qualifying final at Sydney University No.1.
Nicholson, who played one Test for Australia in 1998 and retired from first-class cricket at the end of the 2006-07 season, was unbeaten on 25 in Gordon’s first innings of 209, which was highlighted by opener Craig Simmons’s 113.
The right-arm medium-quick then destroyed the Sydney University first innings with figures of 5-29 as the Students crashed to be all out for 123, despite opener Ed Cowan’s gritty 67.
Nicholson then dominated Gordon’s second innings with 51 in a total of 150, setting the Students the tough task of scoring 217 to win late on the second day of play. Sydney University were 6-57 when stumps were drawn, with Gordon alive to fight another day and the hosts wondering what might have been.
Things went awry for Sydney University on day one, when they won the toss and invited Gordon to bat first.
Opener Simmons provided the starch of the Gordon innings with his 113, while spinner Tom Kierath 5-29 and Stuart Clark (4-48) kept the hosts in the game.
But Nicholson then unravelled the Sydney University middle order and the Students went to stumps on day one at 8-97, with Cowan unbeaten on 57. Although the tail wagged on day two, the damage had been done.
Gordon batted until after 4pm, leaving the Students in a tough position to stay in the race for the Belvedere Cup for 2007-08.
While the First Grade bowed out, Sydney University Seconds remain in the hunt following their first innings qualifying final win over Eastern Suburbs at North Sydney No.2 Oval.
Having been sent in to bat, Sydney University amassed 212 – thanks largely to fine contributions from Matthew Phelps (63), Marty Pascal (30) and Dave Butchart (27) – before dismissing Eastern Suburbs for 164. Pascal (4-32) and Kevin Desai (3-30) enjoyed the fruits of their labours.
But the news was to get worse as results came in from around the grounds. Sydney University Thirds went down to Campbelltown-Camden in a low-scoring affair at Raby No.1; Fourths lost to Penrith on the first innings at Howell Oval; and Fifths lost on the first innings to Bankstown at Jensen Park.
Meanwhile, Sydney University Sixth Grade remain in the hunt in the metropolitan competition (details to come).