Parramatta and Sydney University have continued the habit of making Grand Finals in 2017-18 by securing their berths in the McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket Belvidere Cup Grand Final last weekend.
The Grand Final will be played over three days from Easter Saturday to Monday at Bankstown Memorial Oval.
Parramatta and Sydney University also met in the First Grade Limited-Overs Cup Grand Final in early March, where the students prevailed by five runs. Sydney University will be seeking to claim their fifth Belvidere Cup since 2010-11, while Parramatta will be looking to break a Premiership drought that spans 53 years, when it was known as Central Cumberland.
Promising young batsman Damien Mortimer made a superb century for Sydney University in their 304-run first innings semi-final win against Sydney at Sydney University Oval. He scored 120 from 206 balls and combined wonderfully with recently retired Blues batsman Ed Cowan (82) for a vital 157-run third wicket partnership.
The defending champions posted 431 and dismissed Sydney for 127 in reply.
While Blues seamer Sean Abbott (61 not out) continued his good form with the bat in a rain interrupted draw for Parramatta against Campbelltown-Camden at Old Kings Oval. The hosts scored 3/257 in the only innings for the match.
It was the second century and highest score of the season for Mortimer and took him past 1,000 runs for the campaign. He has made 1,101 runs at 50.00.
He is the sixth player to make 1,000 runs in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket this season, following Bankstown opener Daniel Solway, Mosman captain Scott Rodgie, Hawkesbury all-rounder Josh Clarke, Sutherland top-order batsman Jamie Brown, as well as Blues opener and Sydney University captain Nick Larkin.
Only in 2002-03 have more players reached the mark when seven players scored 1,000 runs for the season.
Nic Bills (5-119) was again terrific with ball in hand for Sydney in a beaten side. It was the second consecutive five-wicket haul for the paceman in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket.
The haul took Bills to 50 First Grade wickets for the first time in his career. It is the sixth time he has taken 40 scalps or more in a season.
Sydney off-spinner Ben Manenti claimed 2-110 to finish the season with 54 wickets. He also scored 525 runs during the 2017-18 First Grade campaign making him the only player to reach the double of 500 runs and 50 wickets in a season.
Sydney University was dominant from the outset after winning the toss and electing to bat first against Sydney.
Despite the loss of Ben Trevor-Jones (10) early on, Larkin (48) and Mortimer made a strong start for Sydney University.
The pair added 72 runs for the second wicket and moved the score to 1/101 before Larkin holed out to Bills in the deep off the bowling of Ryan Felsch (2-72).
The Larkin wicket brought Cowan to the crease and his partnership with Mortimer ultimately snatched the match away from the visitors.
Both batsmen complemented each other perfectly, as Mortimer continued to regularly rotate the strike and find the boundary. He posted 16 fours during his magnificent knock.
Cowan was even more ruthless on anything loose. He hit 11 fours and one six during his 103 balls at the crease.
The runs continued to flow despite a constant fall of wickets. Hayden Kerr (43) and Liam Robertson (32) both made solid contributions as the students’ score continued to grow.
Sydney University was bowled out in the 124th over on day two and set Sydney a titanic task for the win.
The Tigers made a good start in reply with Matthew Rodgers (55) and Felsch (23) passing 50 without the loss of a wicket.
However, it quickly unraveled for Sydney once Felsch departed with the score on 51. The visitors lost 10/76 including their last five batsmen for just five runs to be bowled out in 32 overs.
Tim Ley claimed 4-30 to take his season wicket tally to 59 scalps. His haul included the key wicket of Rodgers caught behind by Tim Cummins.
Cummins collected two catches in the win and moved to 40 dismissals for this season.
It was a complete bowling performance by Sydney University led by Ley and supported by Ben Joy (2-19), Devlin Malone (2-23) and Lawrence Neil-Smith (2-28).
At Old Kings Oval, it was an anti-climactic end to an excellent season for the Minor Premiers Campbelltown-Camden.
In a match interrupted by rain, Parramatta placed priority on occupation of the crease and was never troubled throughout.
For the second week in a row Brenton Cherry (85 not out) and Tim Ward (61) showed significant application for the home side.
It was the third successive match that Cherry remained unbeaten at the crease. He also scored 77 not out from 161 balls during the draw against Gordon the previous week and made 18 not out in the final round against Randwick Petersham.
Cherry heads into the Grand Final with 790 runs to his name during the season at 52.7.
Ward likewise takes some sound form into the decider. Like Cherry, it was a second consecutive half-century for the young opener and took him to 847 runs this season at an average just over 35.
Abbott was equally impressive, finishing the game 61 not out from 167 balls. It carries on some stellar recent batting form for the Blues quick. He posted his highest First Class score of 79 against Queensland in NSW’s final Sheffield Shield match of the season at North Dalton Park in Wollongong.
He shared a 146-run partnership with Cherry for the fourth wicket.
Luke Webb (2-63) was best of the bowlers for Campbelltown-Camden. Nathan Baker (1-53) took the only other wicket to fall.
Jarrad Burke finished the game wicketless but ended the season with 496 runs and 49 wickets. He fell short by four runs and one wicket of joining Manenti as the second player to ever reach 500 runs and 50 wickets.
Burke also missed a fourth consecutive season of 50 wickets or more by one wicket.