Several New South Wales Blues players return for a potentially gripping final round of McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket featuring many vital clashes to decide who books their spot in the finals and claims the Club Championship.
Seven points is all that separates fourth and twelfth place, as the race for the all-important top six draws to a conclusion with a number of those teams still in contention to meet on Saturday.
Three weeks of finals commence the following Saturday with first, second and third place to earn hosting rights.
The One-Day fixtures this Saturday will be extra significant for Parramatta and Manly-Warringah, who are equal leaders of the Club Championship heading into the final round.
The ninth-placed Eastern Suburbs welcome back a host of star Blues players for its crucial match against the seventh placed Bankstown including captain Peter Nevill, dynamic left-hander Nic Maddinson, off-spinner Will Somerville and lively quick Harry Conway.
Australian Under 19 World Cup wicketkeeper-batsman Baxter Holt will also play for the Dolphins.
Ed Cowan will play his first match for Sydney University since announcing his retirement from professional cricket at the First Class, List A and T20 level during the week.
Blues opener and Sydney University captain Nick Larkin will also return from Sheffield Shield duties for the reigning Limited-Overs Cup champions in their match against equal ladder leaders Campbelltown-Camden at Raby Oval No. 1.
Top-order batsman for the Blues, Kurtis Patterson, returns for St George in the clash against Western Suburbs which could qualify his club for the finals starting next weekend. He is joined by Blues seamer Trent Copeland in the Saints line-up, who will play exclusively as a batsman.
Both teams are outside chances to make the finals and will need results to go their way.
Leading run-scorer for the Blues in the Sheffield Shield thus far this season, Daniel Hughes, will play his seventh match for Mosman this season, as it attempts to upset Manly-Warringah and halt its finals aspirations.
The Manly XI will include Blues reserve gloveman Jay Lenton and Australian Under 19 World Cup all-rounder, Jack Edwards.
Sixth placed Gordon welcomes back in form Blues quick Charlie Stobo for its must-win match against Blacktown.
Australian Under 19 World Cup opening bowler, Ryan Hadley, will lead the attack for the visitors.
Parramatta share top of the table honours heading into the final round and play Randwick Petersham at Old Kings Oval. Blues seamer Sean Abbott returns for Parramatta, but will play as a batsman only.
Blues rookie and Australian Under 19 captain, Jason Sangha, plays his ninth match of the season for the 10thplaced visitors.
A home final will be on the line when Sydney and Sutherland meet at Drummoyne Oval and the men from the Shire will again have the services of Blues rookie leg-spinner and recent Sheffield Shield debutant, Daniel Fallins.
The match between Fairfield-Liverpool and Hawkesbury at Rosedale Oval will feature four Blues players.
Recent Sheffield Shield debutant and Blues rookie 19 year-old Param Uppal returns for Fairfield-Liverpool joining fellow Blues rookie and fast bowler Liam Hatcher.
The involvement of Blues and Fairfield-Liverpool seamer Gurinder Sandhu will be limited to batting only.
Hawkesbury will have the services of Blues all-rounder Arjun Nair and Blues rookie Jordan Gauci.
Nair has compiled 183 runs in just the past week playing for his club and region in the Toyota Futures League. He made 88 against Western Suburbs last Saturday and was 95 not out in the second innings of the NSW Metro loss to Victoria which ended on Thursday.
Blues batsman Ryan Gibson will play his 15th game of the season for Penrith when it travels to Alan Davidson Oval to play UNSW.
Opening batsman for the students James Henry makes his 150th McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket appearance in the match.
In other matches, North Sydney take on Northern District at North Sydney Oval.
Bankstown and Eastern Suburbs are amongst the cluster of teams fighting a finals place and the return of several Blues for the Dolphins provides them with a timely boost. A loss for either team spells the end of their respective seasons.
Despite going down to Parramatta last week, Somerville returned excellent figures for Eastern Suburbs. He claimed 6-87 and took his season tally in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket this season to 34 wickets from 17 matches at an average of 26.7.
A win to Sydney University over Campbelltown-Camden is critical for the students to earn hosting rights in the first week of finals and both Larkin and Cowan could be central to its prospects against a formidable opponent.
In his final Sheffield Shield season for the Blues, Cowan scored 347 runs at 34.7 throughout 2017-18. Larkin has also found some form in the First Class arena in recent matches for NSW replicating his dominant form in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket.
He made 132 runs in the last three innings for the Blues. In First Grade, the Sydney University captain has posted 863 runs at 86.3 with a highest score of 246.
Larkin and Cowan strengthen an already outstanding batting order that includes Damien Mortimer, who is the fourth leading run-scorer in the competition with 943 runs at 47.15.
Bankstown opener Daniel Solway leads the way as top run-scorer in the competition. He has amassed 1,248 runs at an incredible 83.2. His tally includes six centuries and four half-centuries.
A victory to the table topping Ghosts may also secure them the minor premiership. Parramatta is the only other team that could take that honour off them with a win over Randwick Petersham.
Success for Parramatta on Saturday also greatly assists the hosts in their quest for their first Club Championship since 1973-74, when known as Central Cumberland.
Randwick Petersham also need a victory to keep alive its slim chances of making the finals.
The leadership and expertise with the ball of Campbelltown-Camden Jarrad Burke could be the main threat to a strong University batting order.
Burke has 43 wickets to his name at 17.56 this season and trails leading wicket taker in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket, Sydney off-spinner Ben Manenti, by three wickets.
Manenti has 46 wickets at 21.09. Western Suburbs leg-spinner and captain, Jonathan Cook is just one wicket behind, while Burke is third on the list.
The Sydney finger spinner will be pivotal for the Tigers against Sutherland at Drummoyne Oval, as third hosts fifth.
Gordon will be significantly strengthened by the inclusion of Stobo, who claimed eight wickets during the week for NSW Metro in its Toyota Futures League loss to Victoria in Blacktown. A victory to Gordon almost guarantees it a finals berth.
Daniel Hughes is massive addition for Mosman as it looks to end the season on a high against Manly-Warringah. He has compiled 606 runs at 43.28 for the Blues in the Sheffield Shield with one match remaining.
However, as is the case with so many teams, the fixture is a must-win for Manly.
Keeper-batsman Lenton heads into the game full of confidence after a match-defining 109 from 217 balls for ACT/NSW Country against Queensland in the Futures League during the week.
The Manly top order player scored over 500 runs at an average of better than 50 for ACT/NSW Country during that competition.
Six points to Manly-Warringah also helps the club claim its second Club Championship in the last ten years.
MCDONALD’S NSW PREMIER CRICKET
FIRST GRADE TEAMS:
ROUND 15: LIMITED-OVERS MATCHES.
10:00am Saturday 10th March 2018
Bankstown v Eastern Suburbs at Bankstown Oval.
Bankstown: Michael Stretton (c), Benjamin Taylor, Chris Ridley, Nathan McAndrew, Rhys Williams, Tushaar Garg, Daniel Solway, Brendan Smith, Jake Cormack, Kyle Brockley, Mitch Brown.
Eastern Suburbs: Gregory Clarence (c), Ian Moran, Angus Robson, Adam Ezekiel, Samuel Doggett, Baxter Holt, William Somerville, Thomas Skelly, Harry Conway, Nic Maddinson, Peter Nevill.
Campbelltown-Camden v Sydney University at Raby Oval 1.
Campbelltown-Camden: Jarrad Burke (c), Philip Wells, Aaron Yabsley, Jaydyn Simmons, Jarred Lysaught, Jordan Browne, Nathan Baker, Mitchell Carruthers, Luke Webb, Samuel Skelly, Charlie Dummer.
Sydney University: Nicholas Larkin (c), Tim Cummins, Ben Joy, Damien Mortimer, Ben Trevor-Jones, Timothy Ley, Liam Robertson, Devlin Malone, Lawrence Neil-Smith, Hayden Kerr, Ed Cowan.
Fairfield-Liverpool v Hawkesbury at Rosedale Oval.
Fairfield-Liverpool: Harmon Sandhu (c), Anthony Clark, Russell Wilcoxon, Jeremy Cashman, Wendel Delpechitra, Luke Ohrynowsky, Damien Aviet, Liam Hatcher, Chad Sammut, Param Uppal, Zach Johns.
Hawkesbury: Corey Lowe(c), Aidan Van Den Nieuwboer, Joshua Clarke, Dale Mckay, Kain Flynn-Duncombe, Luke Courtney, Jordan Gauci, Jaskaran Cheema, Antum Naqvi, Arjun Nair.
Gordon v Blacktown at Chatswood Oval.
Gordon: Steve Colley (c), Harry Evans, Elliot Richtor, Scott O'Brien, Alex Patterson, Charlie Stobo, Cameron Eccles, Matthew Junk, Axel Cahlin, Ashley Doolan, Tym Crawford.
Blacktown: Daya Singh (c), Jake Fawcett, Nicholas Watkins, Dean Crawford, Ryan Hadley, Gabriel Joseph, Mohammad Shinwari, Dhruv Kant, Daniel Nicotra, Josh Hilder, Nathan Hinton.
Manly-Warringah v Mosman at Manly Oval.
Manly-Warringah: Cameron Merchant (c), Adam Crosthwaite, James Crosthwaite, Michael Visser, Jack Edwards, Oliver Davies, Jake Carden, Jay Lenton, Joel Foster, Joseph Graham, Logan Weston.
Mosman: Scott Rodgie(c), Daniel Hughes, Danul Dassanayake, Nathan Doyle, Elijah Eales, Lachlan Hearne, Thomas Slack, Kurt Neely, Patrick Pisel, Matthew Day, Anthony Adlam, Michael Bryant.
North Sydney v Northern District at north Sydney Oval.
North Sydney: Justin Avendano (c), James Newton, Robert Aitken, James Aitken, Ryan Van Kemenade, Thomas Jagot, Anjan Oberai, James Campbell, Oliver Knight, William Graham, Tim Reynolds.
Northern District: Andrew Harriott (c), John Anderson, Henry Hunt, Daniel Anderson, Jonte Pattison, Jonathan Whealing, Jack Colley, Lachlan Ford, Ross Pawson, Charles Taylor, Joshua Miller.
Parramatta v Randwick Petersham at Old Kings Oval.
Parramatta: Nicholas Bertus (c), William Affleck, Luke Dempsey, Sean Abbott, Trent Crittenden, Timothy Ward, Owen Simonsen, Brenton Cherry, Ben Martin, Ben Abbott, Scott Copperfield, Jack White.
Randwick Petersham: Anthony Sams (c), Shaun Eaton, Jason Sangha, Daniel Sams, Mac Jenkins, Soumil Chhibber, Kushaal Ram, Adam Semple, Riley Ayre, Matthew Everett, Jamie Hemphrey.
Sydney v Sutherland at Drummoyne Oval.
Sydney: Daniel Smith (c), Ryan Felsch, Beau McClintock, Suffan Hassan, Thomas Ortiz, Harry Dalton, Benjamin Manenti, Anthony Mosca, Nicholas Bills, Alex Glendenning, Matthew Rodgers.
Sutherland: Chris Williams (c), Daniel Rixon, Jamie Brown, Jarryd Biviano, Tom Doyle, Daniel Fallins, Luke Hawksworth, Jake Wilson, Austin Waugh, Peter Saroukos, Tom Pinson.
UNSW v Penrith at Alan Davidson Oval.
UNSW: David Dawson (c), Joseph Byrnes, James Henry, Matthew Gilkes, Jack Scriven, Nivek Tanner, Suthangan Thanabalasingam, Marcus Atallah, Hayden McLean, Joshua Bennett, Declan White.
Penrith: Michael Castle (c), Brent Williams, Ryan Gibson, Luke Hodges, Ryan Fletcher, Tyran Liddiard, Ryan Hackney, Ryan Smith, John DiBartolo, Jake Wholohan, Cameron Weir.
Western Suburbs v St George at Pratten Park.
Western Suburbs: Jonathan Cook (c), Adrian Isherwood, Ned Eckersley, Nicholas Cutler, Samuel McMahon, Alec Baldwin, Isaac Taylor, Sam Pararajasingham, James Shepherd, James Psarakis, Ayden Brown.
St George: Trent Copeland (c), Andrew Walsh, Matthew Hopkins, Matthew Lacey, Peter Francis, Luke Bartier, Nicholas Stapleton, Jonathan Rose, Blake Macdonald, Kurtis Patterson, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Gray.