Three of the four Essendon sides ended the first day of their Round 16 clash with Melbourne University holding the upper hand.
The First XI will need to take wickets quickly and repeatedly next week to reclaim the ascendancy against Melbourne Uni. After being sent in to bat, a lone middle order stand of 60 between Justin Galeotti (55) and Callum Nankervis (41) propped up the Bombers’ innings after losing their first five wickets for 56 runs. Once Nankervis fell, his good work with opener Galeotti was largely undone; Essendon’s last five wickets fell for just 30 runs. For the second match in a row, the Bombers failed to make a dent in the top order in the remaining overs before stumps. Yousaf Iqbal (36) and James Bett (22) wiped 64 runs off a modest target.
Although they let slip the chance to be in a truly commanding position, the Second XI will nonetheless be confident of victory next week against Melbourne Uni. Essendon had Melbourne Uni regretting their decision to bat first as Sam Crea had the ball on a string, taking four wickets in the blink of an eye. In all sorts of trouble at 5/26, Melbourne Uni unexpectedly stabilised with a series of lower order partnerships regaining the match’s equilibrium. Connor Rutland stepped up late for the Bombers to wipe out the final three wickets and roll Melbourne Uni for 168.
A history-making innings from Stephen Mihelakos-James saw the Bombers romp to a total of 286 against Melbourne University. Mihelakos-James’ extraordinary solo performance of 142 was not only his maiden century in the red and black but was also Essendon’s fifth-highest score in the Third XI. Tom O’Donnell and Donovan Toohey both provided support roles with 45.
A relentless, unified bowling effort saw the Fourth XI skittle Melbourne Uni for 178. James Ford (3/45), Lucas Camuncoli (2/28) and Nathan Ingleton (2/48) did the damage across the 72 overs, ensuring that Melbourne Uni were never able to seize the upper hand.