Minor premiers Sydney University will meet Randwick-Petersham in the final of the Sydney Grade cricket competition in a three-day match scheduled for Bankstown Memorial Oval this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
After 19 rounds of two-day and limited overs competition, followed by rain-affected qualifying finals and semi-finals, the first and second-placed teams at the end of the competition proper have made it through to the final.
Sydney University made it through after drawing their semi-final with Bankstown at Sydney University No.1 Oval at the weekend. After batting through a rain-interrupted Saturday and well into Sunday to rack up 435, the Students had Bankstown 3-73 when rain stopped play at 4pm on Sunday afternoon.
Randwick-Petersham also made it through after their match was abandoned overnight. Having dismissed St George for 195, the Randy-Petes were 3-32 at stumps on Saturday at Coogee Oval – and that’s how the match ended thanks to persistent overnight rain.
Sydney University’s mammoth first innings score was built around a swashbuckling 124 from Sports Scholarship holder Nick Larkin, who cracked 17 boundaries and two sixes in a 117-ball innings.
The 21-year-old Bachelor of Commerce student came in at No.7 and was 50 not out at stumps at Saturday night before launching a boundary-studded assault on Sunday morning to bring up his third century of the season. He now has 1140 runs on the board in Poidevin-Gray and grade competitions for 2010-11 at a healthy 47.5.
After being peppered with bouncers by Bankstown speedsters Daniel McLachlan and Aaron Bird early in his innings – and being hit on the helmet by McLachlan – Larkin retaliated by bringing up his half-century with a six over extra cover and his century with a six over long-on.
Greg Mail (79), Mark Faraday (74) and Scott Henry (42) also made big contributions. Former NSW opener Mail now has 1095 runs for the season at 57.6, including three centuries.
Sydney University Cricket Club coach Gary Whitaker said the Students outbatted Bankstown on a very good wicket prepared by Ray Hunt and his grounds staff.
“Bankstown have a hostile attack and they came at us physically and verbally,” he said. “It was a pressure situation, a real test of character. But we have a good attitude throughout the team and we executed our game plan perfectly. And Nick Larking went from strength to strength during his innings after surviving a torrid first half-hour.”
Sydney University have already won the Limited Overs Cup and the Poidevin-Gray Shield (under 21) titles for 2010-11, with the Belvidere Cup now in their sights. Starting times for the final are 10.30am on Friday and Saturday and 9.30am on Sunday, with a minimum 96 overs to be bowled each day.
SUCC broke an 89-year drought when they won the Belvidere Cup in the 2002-03 season. They won the title again in 2004-05.
The Students bowed out of the 2010-11 Second Grade title race at the weekend when rain cruelly ended a match that was heading for an exciting finish.
The Students had declared at 8-274 at North Sydney Oval – on the back of solid contributions from Adam Theobald (83), Liam Robertson (68) and Ben Larkin (51) – and had North Sydney 7-226 when the match was abandoned.
The higher-placed North Sydney proceeded through to a showdown with Gordon, who defeated Randwick-Petersham outright in the other semi-final.
Whitaker said the match was heading towards a result but rain intervened on eight occasions to rob the Students of the chance to push for victory.
“We took the second new ball with 10 overs to be played and three wickets from a result, but the weather had the final say with six overs to go,” he said.
“The Seconds played positive cricket in the hunt for a finals berth. They declared after 80 overs and backed themselves to dismiss North Sydney, but it was not to be.”
In other lower grade finals, Third Grade will be fought out between Manly-Warringah and St George at Manly Oval; Fourth Grade is between Sydney and Gordon at Joe McAleer Reserve; and Fifth Grade is between Eastern Suburbs and Manly-Warringah at Waverley Oval.
Sydney Grade Cricket competition – Semi-finals
First Grade: Sydney University 435 (Nick Larkin 124, Greg Mail 79, Mark Faraday 74, Scott Henry 42; Jarrad Burke 4-75) drew with Bankstown 3-73 (Simon Keen 32, Chris Small 24 not out; Tom Kierath 1-7) at Sydney University No.1 Oval. Match abandoned due to inclement weather. Toss: Sydney University. Batted first: Sydney University. Higher-placed Sydney University proceed to final against Randwick-Petersham, who drew with St George in the other semi-final. Final to be played at Bankstown Memorial Oval on 1-3 April.
Second Grade: North Sydney 7-226 (Sebastien Reid 76 not out, Josh Lawrence 70, Ardil Domingo 34; Chris Withers 3-34) drew with Sydney University 8(dec)-274 (Adam Theobald 83, Liam Robertson 68, Ben Larkin 51; Scott Rodgie 6-72) at North Sydney Oval. Match abandoned due to inclement weather. Toss: North Sydney. Batted first: Sydney University. Higher-placed North Sydney proceed to final against Gordon, who defeated Randwick-Petersham outright in the other semi-final.