Parramatta and Sydney University have both named strong squads for the McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket Limited-Overs Cup Grand Final at Old Kings Oval this Sunday in what promises to be a pulsating match.
The hosts will be led by wicketkeeper-batsman Nick Bertus, while Liam Robertson will skipper the students in the absence of club captain Nick Larkin, who has been selected in the NSW Sheffield Shield squad to play Victoria at the Junction Oval starting Saturday.
Parramatta seamer Sean Abbott and Sydney University top-order batsman Ed Cowan are the other Blues players unavailable for the match due to Sheffield Shield commitments.
While Sydney University will be looking to add to a magnificent recent record of First Grade Premierships on Sunday, Parramatta will be looking to secure its first trophy in the top grade since 1964-65, when known as Central Cumberland and the legendary Australian batsman Doug Walters was in the top order.
The students have claimed five titles in the last 10 years of McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket.
Each team possesses tremendous quality in both its batting and bowling stocks. This includes Bertus, Robertson, talented young Sydney University batsman, Damien Mortimer, his team mate and swing bowler Tim Ley, as well as Parramatta quicks Scott Copperfield and Ben Martin among a host of others.
Mortimer in particular is one of New South Wales cricket’s burgeoning young talents, demonstrated by his breakthrough into the NSW Metro Toyota Futures League this season, where he has played two matches.
He made a fifty on debut at that level earlier in the season against ACT/NSW Country. Mortimer scored 61 and 49 in each innings of that match.
His promise has been backed up with 872 runs for the students in 2017-18 so far at an average of a tick under 46. The young batsman will be an important part of the Sydney University side on Sunday.
The home side qualified for the final stages of the competition in second position on the ladder just behind minor premiers Campbelltown-Camden, which was eliminated in the quarter finals by Eastern Suburbs.
On the other hand, Sydney University have had to do it the hard way to make the Grand Final. The students finished the regular season in fifth position on the ladder and defeated Sydney and Bankstown, both away from home, to book their place.
Bertus is one of the team’s most important players and his wicket could turn the match. He has amassed 848 runs this season 49.9 and is the club’s leading run-scorer.
The prodigious batsman has also posted 352 runs at 88 for NSW Metro in the Futures League with a highest score of 128 not out.
Bertus was in fine form in the semi-final win over Eastern Suburbs, finishing 89 not out in the successful run chase. His unbeaten 148-run third wicket partnership with Will Affleck (66 not out) comfortably guided Parramatta to the 169 required to seal its spot in the decider.
Affleck has also had a very solid season to date. He has scored 574 runs at 52.2.
The wickets of Tim Ward and Brenton Cherry will also be key to the Parramatta cause.
Both men have had good seasons with the bat. Ward has scored 663 runs at 33.15 this campaign, while Cherry has had a similarly productive season posting 524 runs at 40.3.
However, the students have the attack that could prove the nemesis of a formidable Parramatta top and middle-order.
Ley has been outstanding for the students this season. He has taken 50 wickets across all forms in First Grade at 15.1.
He has been ably supported by the likes of Joe Kershaw, Ben Joy and leg-spinner Devlin Malone.
The omission of Kershaw with injury is a big blow. He has claimed 22 wickets in 15 matches at an average of 24.0.
The opening bowler also missed the semi-final against Bankstown. His last match for Sydney University in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket was in the Limited-Overs Cup Quarter Final against Sydney.
The medium pace of skipper Robertson will also be handy for the visitors on Sunday. He recently passed 100 wickets in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket.
Parramatta likewise have a potent bowling attack in its arsenal spearheaded by fast bowlers Martin and Copperfield, who have taken 69 wickets between them this season.
Copperfield has collected 36 wickets at 24.8, and his partner in crime, Martin, has 33 scalps to his name at 25.8. They were once again critical in the semi-final victory.
Martin returned the impressive figures of 3-39 and Copperfield claimed 2-36. Jack White (3-27) picked up best figures for Parramatta in that match.
The ability of the Sydney University top-order to weather the storm will be central to the students’ hopes.
Mortimer (91) and opener Hayden Kerr (78) were both pivotal to the students’ semi-final win over Bankstown. Their contributions helped University to 289, which its attack did a fantastic job of defending, as Bankstown was bowled for 250 in reply.
Ley (4-42) was the talisman for the students with the ball in the 39-run win.
Runs from the Sydney University captain, who has compiled 516 runs at 34.4, will also be key.
The visitors may also have an edge behind the stumps with the glovework of Tim Cummins.
The keeper has had an excellent season so far. He has 34 dismissals for the campaign which puts him among the leading wicketkeepers in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket.
MCDONALD’S NSW PREMIER CRICKET
FIRST GRADE TEAMS: LIMITED-OVERS CUP: FINAL:
10:00am Sunday 4th March 2018
Parramatta v Sydney University at Old Kings Oval.
Parramatta: Nicholas Bertus (c), William Affleck, Brenton Cherry, Timothy Ward, Ben Abbott, Luke Dempsey, Scott Copperfield, Owen Simonsen, Jack White, Ben Martin, Trent Crittenden.
Sydney University: Liam Robertson (c), Tim Cummins, Ben Joy, Damien Mortimer, Ben Trevor-Jones, Timothy Ley, Devlin Malone, Lawrence Neil-Smith, Hayden Kerr, Nicky Craze, Steven Hobson.