Sydney University’s Steven Hobson stole the show on the opening day of the fourth round on Saturday with a grand performance with the bat.
Batting at three in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket second-grade competition against Hawkesbury, Hobson was called to the crease very early at Owen Earle Oval when opener Jack Holloway was dismissed for a duck in the first over.
But that was as good as it got for the home side as Hobson and Charles Litchfield combined for a 231-run partnership for the second wicket before Litchfield departed just six runs short of a century.
Hobson continued to pile on the damage, striking 27 fours and five sixes to finish unbeaten on 229 not out when the students declared with a mammoth total of 6-420 off 88 overs. Hobson’s impressive score, his second double century for the club, is the highest score across all grades of the McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket competition.
Sydney University bowler Lawrence Neil-Smith hammered home the advantage for the student picking up three cheap wickets late in the day to have the Hawkes struggling on 3-11 at stumps.
A host of other second-grade centurions enjoyed success on day one.
The next best score went to Northern District opening batsman John Anderson who scored a patient 139 from 252 deliveries against Penrith at Howell Oval. Against a bowling attack that picked up 20 wickets in an outright win the previous round, Anderson held firm at the top of the order to occupy the crease. He received useful support from middle-order batsman Aaron Flaherty (60) who scored his third half-century of the season and wicketkeeper Clayton Waters (45) to close the day on 8-347.
Continuing the trend of opening batsmen scoring hundreds is Fairfield-Liverpool’s second-grader, Chris Gibson. In just his third game in grade cricket, Gibson scored 114 against Sutherland at Rosedale Oval. Zach Johns (87) accompanied Gibson during his extended stay at the crease putting on a 213-run stand for the second wicket. They were both removed in quick succession, but captain Russell Wilcoxon (38) and recent first-grade debutant Peter Zybrands (38) continued the momentum to help lift the score past 300 to conclude the day on 6-339.
The next second-grade hundred went to University of NSW opener Joseph Byrnes. After scoring 91 in the first round of the season, Byrnes safely negotiated the nervous nineties this time round to reach a score of 109 against Randwick Petersham at Coogee Oval. He then continued his rich vein of form the next day scoring back-to-back half-centuries in the Kingsgrove Sports Twenty20 Cup.
The remaining two centuries of the week were scored in quick time. Mosman Cricket Club’s Lachlan Hearne made his way to triple figures in little time against North Sydney in second-grade. After removing the home side for 165 in 55 overs, Hearne muscled North Sydney’s bowlers around the park to score 102 and helped his team secured the first innings points in the process.
Fifth-grade wicket keeper Joshua Kitchner made it two centuries in a week for the University of NSW cricket club. Kitchner made an impressive 125 not out against Randwick Petersham, making the most of the batter-friendly conditions at David Philips North, which saw almost every batsman make a start to finish play on 6-333.
Seven bowlers claimed five-wicket hauls this weekend, with the best figures going to Sydney Cricket Club’s second-grader Ash Squire. Squire had figures of 7-82 off 25 overs against Western Suburbs, in what was his second 5-wicket haul of the season following his 6-44 in round two taking him to 15 wickets for the season at an average of 15.
Bankstown’s fourth-grade opening bowler Chris Stefanish also had a strong bowling performance against Gordon at Jenson Park. Winning the toss and choosing to bat first, Gordon had no answers for Stefanish who claimed figures of 5-15 from 13 overs helping to dismiss the visitors for 107.
But Gordon answered back with another convincing bowling performance, to have the result on a knife-edge at the close of play with Bankstown 8-88 at stumps.
Rounding out the remaining five-wicket takers for the week were Eastern Suburbs’ Robbie Ensor (5-24), Mosman’s Oliver Holder (5-45), North Sydney’s Shantanu Havele (5-51), Matthew Iemma (5-68) from the St George Cricket Club, and Randwick Petersham’s Padraic Flanagan (5-86).