The business end of the season for the McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket AW Green Shield competition is set to get underway on Sunday, January 21st.
The top eight was decided a week ago at the conclusion of the final round, and North Sydney was the lucky team to sneak into the finals with a superior net run-rate at the expense of Sutherland who went down to Eastern Suburbs in the final round.
Parramatta appears to be the benchmark for the competition. Their undefeated season has placed them in the top spot on 39 points with Gordon nipping at their heels just two points behind in second. Making up positions three-to seven are Manly-Warringah, Sydney, Northern District, Bankstown, Hawkesbury and North Sydney.
Competition leaders Parramatta will host eighth-placed North Sydney at Old Kings Oval. Parramatta will be looking to Blair Overton and Billy McCarthy to lead the bowling attack for the home side. Both bowlers hold nine wickets apiece.
Overton will be keen to replicate his performance from round three when he took his best figures of 4-2 from six overs. Overton has also been active with the bat scoring 187 runs, just behind wicket-keeper Ryan Johns (196 runs) and captain Harrison King who has 209 runs at an average 42.
North Sydney hasn’t quite got the numbers behind them to rival their opponents with the bat. Charlie Rose is their top run scorer with 167 runs at an average of 28. But they are much closer in the bowling department featuring Shivam Vohra (nine wickets) and captain Shirazi Ammar (eight wickets). Both of which will need to be effective to give themselves the best chance for an upset win.
Second-placed Gordon will have the home ground advantage when they play Hawkesbury at Killara Oval.
Gordon will be full of confidence as they head into the finals on a five-game winning streak. However, Hawkesbury will have bad memories from the last time they met back in round three when they lost by 102 runs after being dismissed for a measly 38 runs.
Jack Davis-Rice has scored 254 runs during Gordon’s campaign including three half-centuries. Jayllen Naganayagam has also been strong at the top of the order with 239 runs to his name with an excellent 95 off 47 deliveries against Penrith in round five. Captain Jordan Hayes has been their standout with the ball, taking 12 wickets with an average just under 16.
Hawkesbury’s batting has relied heavily on opener Awad Naqvi who’s scored 196 runs this tournament with two half-centuries. They do however have an ace up their sleeve in the field. Venkatachalam Viswanathan has been outstanding with the ball so far. He is the third-leading wicket-taker in the competition with 15 wickets and an average of 12 to go with it.
Sixth-placed Bankstown will travel to LM Graham Reserve to take on third-placed Manly-Warringah who have a hat-trick of wins, two of which with a bonus-point, leading into the finals.
Two of the competitions best stroke-makers will be on display.
Second-leading run-getter Jake Osborne will anchor the top order for the home side. His three half-centuries have helped him accumulate 302 runs with an average of 43.
His opposing rival Zeeshaan Ahmed has 276 runs at an average of 55. Ahmed hasn’t enjoyed the same consistency as Osborne, but his high score of 154 not out in round four proves that he is capable of taking the game away from his opposition.
Manly’s best bowler heading into this knockout fixture is Lachlan Molyneux. Molyneux has 13 wickets in the competition, taking a wicket in every game he’s played thus far. Bankstown’s bowling pair of Jakob Eljed (11 wickets) and Mitchell Rockwell (ten wickets) are slightly behind Molyneux in the wickets column. However, both Eljed and Rockwell have a five-wicket haul to their name as opposed to Molyneux whose best figures are 3-11.
Rounding out the quarter-final matches this weekend is the fixture between Sydney and Northern District at Drummoyne Oval.
Three points separated the teams at the end of the regular season, and this will be the second time they have faced each other this tournament after Sydney won by five-wickets in round five.
Northern District batsman Lachlan Fisher (218 runs) has the most runs between the two sides. As it stands Sydney’s best batsman is captain Hugh Sherriff who is 31-runs behind Fisher on 187.
Sherriff has been a significant contributor to Sydney’s AW Green Shield success. Not only has he scored the most runs for his side, but he also has the most wickets with 14 that includes an impressive 5-29 in round two.
Nikhil Ahluwalia and Joe Hiley have 18 wickets between them for Northern District, which is a notable achievement considering that they had two matches abandoned.
The quarter-finals will begin at 10:00 am on Sunday. The winners will progress through to the Semi-Finals to be played two days later on January 23rd. The Final will be played on Australia Day, January 26th.