UNFAZED by not being able to hold a physical awards ceremony this year, Maccabi-AJAX Senior Cricket Club hosted a virtual 2019-20 presentation night last Sunday on Zoom in impressive style.
Almost 100 people who tuned in were kept engaged and entertained for 90 minutes with live crosses to award winners, pre-recorded speeches by life members and special guests including Michael Klinger, and round-by-round voting updates towards the event’s biggest prize – the Ray Saffer Award – which went down to the wire.
Josh Jones ended up winning that prestigious honour with the judging panel awarding him 14 points based on performances over the 20 rounds of the recently completed Mercantile Cricket Association Sunday A Grade season, in which the club under new head coach Greg Hurvitz finished third, before bowing out in the semi-finals against Monash University.
Jones’ season statistics were brilliant – he took 23 wickets and scored more than 200 runs for the Maccabi-AJAX First XI.
The Ray Saffer Award runner-up was Mark Soffer on 13 points. Benji Jones, Amir Meyerowitz and Zac Fleisher all finished on 12 points, Nochum Paltiel and Jamie Hyams on 11, and Eli Paneth on 10.
Upon receiving the award, Jones said on Zoom, “I expected Nochum or Zac would win it, so I’m just very happy.”
He thanked departing captain Benji Jones for his inspirational leadership on and off the field, and credited Paltiel for being the ideal bowling partner, whose “accuracy helped me to be able to go hard [bowl aggressively at pace] in each spell”.
“I put in at training as much as I could and tried to bowl to a plan, which we all did, and that has made us a better club.”
Benji Jones and Paltiel, both received Century Awards for respectively scoring 100 and 104 (not out) in Sunday A Grade rounds 12 and 11.
Paltiel also won the Leonard Burman Club Champion Award for Outstanding First XI Cricketer, not only for that unbeaten ton and scoring a season total of 341 runs at an average of 28.4, but also for excellent fielding, and taking 19 wickets in 14 matches, including a brilliant hat-trick against the Melbourne Ramblers on February 16 at Gary Smorgon Oval.
The club’s aggregate best bowling award was won by Soffer, who took 25 wickets, while Fleisher won the equivalent batting award for scoring 356 runs at an average of 29.67.
Soffer was also named the recipient of the Les Kausman Award for Most Consistent Cricketer.
Amir Meyerowitz, who won the Michael Klinger Rising Star Award, had a fantastic season with the bat and the ball for the Maccabi-AJAX U17s and First XI. He scored 285 runs in eight matches for the U17s, who finished runners-up, and in the Sunday A Grade competition he scored 226 runs in 14 innings and took nine catches.
Bailey Melzak received the Rob Lourie Award for Most Determined Cricketer, having notably scored a half-century and 37 off just 20 balls to help Maccabi-AJAX come back from behind in matches played in very challenging batting conditions, fiercely chased the ball whenever fielding, and took a wicket in his first over several times when used as a part-time bowler.
“I’m quite shocked, because this award was something I was not expecting, but I have been training hard and putting in the effort every time,” Melzak said.
Benji Jones won the Shawne Rubenstein Award for Best Fieldsman, the Paul Fink Award for Best Clubman went to Second XI captain Jeremy Hoppe, Nathan Guttman won the Harry Newhouse Award for Most Dedicated Trainer, and Eli Paneth earned the Ernie Adler Award for Most Improved Player.
Paneth took 10 wickets and scored 224 runs in 13 matches for the Maccabi-AJAX Third XI and was promoted to the Seconds team and to the club’s leadership group.
Jono Baruch received the Kurt Defris Award for Outstanding Service to the Club.
Departing First XI captain Benji Jones, who will stay on as a player next season, thanked coach Hurvitz and all squad members and club volunteers for their efforts, and said while the club bowed out in the semi-finals in Sunday A Grade, there are plenty of green shoots.
“New recruit, wicketkeeper-batsman Zac Fleisher was great for us, as was Nochum Paltiel and we probably had the best bowling attack in the competition,” he said.
“Youngsters like Amir Meyerowitz, who really solidified his place in the top squad, provided a good mix of youth and experience in the squad, and the club will benefit from added depth across the grades.
“We were too inconsistent in the batting department, so we need to keep working on that, but the talent is there.”
The Team of the Year was: Nochum Paltiel, Zac Aflalo, Eli Paneth, Zac Fleisher, Amir Meyerowitz, Eytan Epstein, Josh Jones, Benji Jones, Bailey Melzak, Mark Soffer, Lior Meyerowitz, Nadav Moskow.