A brilliant century from Tyson McKenzie helped Old Students to a strong total on day one of its game with Central Park-St Brendan’s.
Going in it was the Tigers with it all to play for, locked in a three-way battle for a home semi-final, while the Students were stuck at the bottom of the Haisman Shield ladder.
But if anything it was the Students who looked like the finals-bound team, piling on 9-250 in 80 overs to take control of the contest.
Leading the way was McKenzie, who belted 120 in 155 balls and highlighted his first A-grade century for the club with 12 fours and four sixes.
It was just his third match of the season, after he moved to Melbourne post-football season with his family.
However, he came to the crease with his side on the ropes, after the Tigers had made light work of the Students’ top order.
From there though it was all McKenzie, but he was ably helped by Connor Hangan who made a patient 28 from 135 balls.
‘‘I was seeing them well, I came in at 3-17, so there was a bit of pressure on me and the young fella; he’s only 15 and I really enjoyed batting with him,’’ McKenzie said.
‘‘He’s a very positive batsman for a young kid, but we needed him to just stick around.
‘‘Obviously I’m naturally quite aggressive and we spoke about seeing off the strike bowlers and then picking a bowler to go after.’’
The pair put on 125 before Hangan was caught, but Gino Saracino entered and picked up the pace with 56 from 68 balls.
McKenzie fell to make the score 5-173, caught off Rhiley Lau’s bowling.
The Tigers limited the damage with impressive fielding resulting in two run outs, and Aidan Lloyd was the pick of the bowlers with 4-38 from 12 overs.
While pleased with his own form, McKenzie had just one word to describe Hangan’s contribution — brilliant.
‘‘The only bad shot he played all day was his wicket, he middled every single ball, but unfortunately picked out the fielders,’’ he said.
‘‘But to make 28 off 135 balls after coming in at 3-17 shows great character and that he will be a good player for the future.
‘‘I wouldn’t have been able to make 120 if he didn’t do that at the other end.’’
It has not been the Students’ season; the reigning premiers have won just once, but McKenzie said good results were not far away.
‘‘We don’t think it’s a true representation of how we’ve been playing,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve missed half the season, but looking at results and talking with the boys we’ve always been in games, but either couldn’t quite bat well enough or bowl well enough.
‘‘Coming off winning the final we’re not at the right end of the table, so the rest of the season is about building some confidence for next season and not just falling away.’’
For the Tigers, a loss will likely cost them third place on the ladder with Kyabram in a strong position against Northerners.
If they can’t chase down the target they will need a positive result against Karramomus in the final round.