26/05/2024

Fergus O'Neill celebrates one of his five wickets for the match (Photo: Cricket Victoria / X)

Victoria secured a vital victory at the MCG on Sunday afternoon in their latest Sheffield Shield fixture, and it was largely on the back of one man – Fergus O’Neill.

Coming into the game winless, the Vics needed a lift from some of their more experienced players. Everyone looked towards the prowess of Matt Short, Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris to get them out of their early-season rut.

O’Neill strolled to the crease in the Vics second innings, with them being in a precarious position sitting at 7/202, with a lead of 296 runs. New South Wales remained a chance of victory, however the 22-year-old soon put the game to bed.

He scored his maiden first class half-century on a pitch where most struggled. The all-rounder blasted an unbeaten 70 off just 79 balls, which included eight fours and two massive sixes.

On top of this, he had just helped the Vics dismantle NSW for 102 in their first innings. O’Neill set the tone early in that innings, dismissing crucial players in Daniel Hughes and Moises Henriques for ducks.

In a pitch offering prodigious seam and bounce, the right-arm quick made the most of the conditions to finish with impressive figures of 4/23 off 12 overs, giving his side the early ascendancy.

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The paceman earned man of the match honours against NSW (Photo: cricket.com.au)

On the back of other handy knocks from Peter Handscomb (90), and Travis Dean (53), as well as a strong bowling display from Will Sutherland (3/21) and Todd Murphy (3/34), the Vics romped to a commanding 205-run victory.   

It was arguably O’Neill’s best game at first-class level in his young career so far, playing a vital role with both bat and ball to kickstart Victoria’s Sheffield Shield campaign.

After the game Will Sutherland spoke to the performance of O’Neill and the uniqueness of his play.

“They could change the name of the MCG to the Fergus Cricket Ground,” he said jokingly.

“He’s always on fire when he’s here. He’s deadly with the ball, he’s slightly different in that he’s not overly quick, but he’s relentless with his lengths and always does enough to challenge the top order.”

Victoria will look to carry momentum into their next game against Tasmania at the Junction Oval on 5 November, while NSW will be desperate for a victory against a strong Western Australian outfit at home starting on 6 November.

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