Shane Watson will make his first T20 appearance for Sutherland on Sunday against Mosman in what promises to be one of many enthralling contests during rounds five and six of the Kingsgrove Sports T20 Cup.
The former Australian all-rounder will be just one of several stars to feature when both teams face off at Glenn McGrath Oval.
The match is not only an important fixture for Sutherland, who are seeking to stay in the top four of the Sydney Sixers’ conference, but also a key part of the preparation for Watson, as he readies himself for another season of the Big Bash as captain of the Sydney Thunder.
Watson has played four matches for Sutherland in the McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket this season, scoring 278 runs at 69.5, with an outstanding knock of 184 against St George his highest score.
Despite missing former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, Mosman are once again littered with star performers for the match including former South African international player, Johan Botha.
He joins the in-form Scott Rodgie and talented youngster Danul Dassanayake in the pursuit of maintaining the Whales’ position at the top of the Sixers’ conference.
However, Sutherland are not without its wealth of stars as well. In addition to Watson, the threatening leg spin of New South Wales Blues’ rookie Daniel Fallins will be a significant part of the bowling attack which will line-up against both Mosman and then Newcastle.
Fallins is one of the more potent spin bowlers in the state at the present time, and showcased that form against England in a recent tour match at the Adelaide Oval playing for a Cricket Australia XI. In his first class debut, he took 5-73 in the first innings and six wickets for the match.
He has taken 11 wickets at 27.7 for Sutherland across both the McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket and Kingsgrove Sports T20 Cup competitions this season.
For the fixture against Newcastle, the Novocastrians’ XI will include former New South Wales bowler Burt Cockley.
Hawkesbury have been arguably one of the most impressive sides in the early rounds of the Kingsgrove Sports T20 Cup, as its first position in the Sydney Thunder conference will attest.
Josh Clarke has shown fine form across all forms for Hawkesbury this campaign, particularly in the shorter format, being dismissed just the once from three stays at the crease. The all-rounder and top-order batsman has scored 160 runs with a highest score of 79 not out.
That is not to discount the threat he poses with the ball, taking six wickets at a miserly 7.33. That trend continues on Sunday and Hawkesbury will be very hard to beat again.
Parramatta are the other team to start with three wins from as many starts in the Thunder conference and will travel to Rosedale Oval to play Fairfield-Liverpool. Key performances from bowler Jack White have been a pivotal part of the success, taking 7 wickets at 10.29 with best figures of 4-19.
Fairfield-Liverpool also play Sydney University earlier in the day, which will be looking for its second win of the competition to push for a top four spot in the Thunder conference.
Sydney have a tough assignment to secure successive wins in its back-to-back fixture at home against Manly-Warringah and St George, despite both teams yet to show the form they are capable of.
The Tigers currently sit third last on the Sixers’ conference ladder, but if captain Chris Green, and Blues’ wicketkeeper Jay Lenton were to hit their straps, it could be danger signs for the hosts.
Lenton, in particular, has yet to find his touch with bat in hand for his club across all forms averaging just 8.0 and could be due to unleash on Sunday in the shorter format.
St George are in a similar boat with a heavy reliance on its captain Nick Stapleton, who has been impressive with bat and ball, taking five wickets and scoring 130 runs at 43.33 in the T20 fixtures.
In other fixtures for rounds 5 and 6 of the Kingsgrove Sports T20 Cup, Central Coast host Bankstown and Western Suburbs, and Penrith will be looking to maintain its spot in the four in the Thunder conference when it plays both Campbelltown-Camden and the ACT at home. Both of the Penrith matches will be live-streamed.