NSW Blues skipper Peter Nevill has urged those on the fringes of state selection to keep applying the heat in both red and white ball cricket when the McDonald's Men's Premier Cricket segues into the start of the Kingsgrove Sports Twenty20 Cup this weekend.
Fourteen members of the Shield squad have been withdrawn from this weekend's action in preparation for the start of the domestic first class season later this month, leaving those left behind the chance to further press their claims in the two-day and T20 formats.
The second day of the second round of the Premier Cricket competition resumes on Saturday morning before all 20 clubs return on Sunday for the Kingsgrove Sports Cup 2020/21 launch.
While Nevill returned a modest 24 for Eastern Suburbs on day one in their tense encounter with Penrith at Waverley Oval, the Blues captain was delighted to see big runs scored elsewhere across the grade scene.
UNSW's Matthew Gilkes led the way with a double century against Wests, while Ollie Davies (91), Nick Larkin (83) and Jason Sangha (95) were all among the runs for their respective clubs.
Gilkes, Larkin and Sangha are part of the 17-man squad heading to Adelaide for the start of the Blues' title defence and won't play on Saturday, while Manly's Davies is knocking heavily on the door after a brilliant start to the season.
NSW Blues squad members Davies, Ben Dwarshuis (Sutherland), Ryan Hackney (Penrith), Ryan Hadley (Manly), Lachlan Hearne (Mosman), Baxter Holt (Eastern Suburbs), Nathan McAndrew (Bankstown) and Arjun Nair (Fairfield-Liverpool) are all available for Saturday's round two resumption.
All bar McAndrew will back-up for T20 action less than 24 hours later.
"When the NSW squad goes back to grade cricket, you want to see those players dominating," Nevill said.
"It was great to see good performances from Ollie Davies, Jason Sangha and particularly Matthew Gilkes last week.
"That's what you want to see…young batters putting pressure on and putting their names up for selection and giving selectors difficult calls to make coming into the start of a season.
"Others will get their chance this weekend to get among the runs or wickets."
Nevill was particularly impressed with Gilkes' even 200 against Western Suburbs – an innings which included 120 runs in boundaries.
The NSW Blues skipper said: "His discipline at the start of an innings has been outstanding. His judgment on which balls to play and which balls to leave has been at the high end.
"That's enabled him to get through and build an innings.
"And then he's got those gears to go much harder. Once he got himself established (last Saturday) he was really able to go on with it."
Hawkesbury, Blacktown, Western Suburbs and St George will be chasing totals over 350 when play re-starts on Saturday, while Parramatta will set after North Sydney's massive 8-427.
The most evenly poised match is the Eastern Suburbs-Penrith encounter at Waverley Oval.
Easts are 5-153 in reply to the visitors' 207.
Meanwhile, former NSW keeper-batsman Daniel Smith looms as the major weapon when his Sydney side takes on St George in the first round of the Kingsgrove Sports Twenty20 competition on Sunday.
The destructive Smith has crunched 1479 career runs for Sydney and Wests in the shortest format, helping the Tigers to two titles in the last three seasons.
It was his explosive man-of-the-match 89 from just 47 balls that set-up Sydney's win over Hawkesbury in the 2019/20 decider.
Sutherland's Dwarshuis, who will line-up for the Sydney Sixers in this summer's BBL, will be the key figure with bat and ball when the Sharks host UNSW at Glenn McGrath Oval.
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Premier Cricket matches being streamed Saturday:
Sydney University v. Gordon, University Oval
UTS North Sydney v Parramatta, Bon Andrews Oval
Kingsgrove Sports T20 Cup matches to be streamed Sunday:
Randwick Petersham v UTS North Sydney, Kensington Oval