Minor Premier Sydney University will attempt to record its fourth Belvidere Cup triumph in the past seven seasons when it meets Bankstown in the McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket final at Bankstown on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The return of NSW Blues Ed Cowan and Nick Larkin for the finals campaign has boosted the students.
Both played in the Semi-Final against Parramatta along with fellow Blues squad member Ryan Carters and former Blues veteran Greg Mail, giving University an intimidating top order.
In the bowling department, long-serving clubman man Ben Joy was the man of the moment in the Semi-Final with figures of 5-9 from four overs. With this effort, Joy has become the 13th highest wicket-taker in the club's history, with 365 wickets.
Opening bowlers Tim Ley and Tom Rogers both have 25 wickets in all formats.
Young leg-spinner Devlin Malone has been a revelation for the students this season and it would not be surprising to see him have an impact in this clash.
Malone, who hails from the Sutherland Shire, was involved with the Melbourne Stars during BBL|06. Despite not playing a game, he still has earned plenty of praise including fellow team mate and Australian international Glenn Maxwell, who commented that Malone is a very difficult bowler to get away.
Adding to this was his debut in the Toyota Futures Leagues with the New South Wales team against Queensland in February 2017. A good match at Bankstown Memorial Oval could push Malone into the frame of NSW selectors for the 2017-2018 summer.
Reigning champions Bankstown could become the first team since Sydney University in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 to record back to back Belvidere Cup triumphs if they win this weekend.
Bankstown proceed to the Final after upsetting Gordon in the semi-final, with middle order batsman Mitch Brown (161) the standout in the 162-run drubbing.
Brown has amassed 915 runs in all formats for Bankstown after his century last weekend. It was a welcome return to form for Brown, who had managed just 77 runs in his previous five innings before the century.
Supporting Brown will be Phillip Wells, whose 879 season runs is second best in all formats for Bankstown. Wells has three centuries next to his name for the 2016-2017 season and his contribution will give a big indication of how Bankstown perform with the bat.
Wells has hit scores of 0 and 28 in his previous two clashes with Sydney University and will no doubt want to improve on that to give his side the best possible chance to record victory.
In the bowling department Bankstown will be led by opening bowler Nathan McAndrew (38 wickets) who has had a successful McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket season.
McAndrew has big game experience despite being just 23 years of age. He has three first class matches next to his name with New Zealand domestic side Auckland Aces as well as two T20 domestic games with the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League.
He was also a regular fixture in the ACT side for the Toyota Futures League, taking 17 wickets in five matches.
Backing up McAndrew will be left arm spinner Jarrad Burke, who has had a phenomenal McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket season.
Burke has 50 scalps in all formats at a superb average of 16.70 including 16 wickets in his last four matches.
Boasting an economy rate of 2.8 runs per over, Burke is also a very difficult bowler to get away and is able to build pressure on the batting side.
A former Australian Under 19 representative and Bill O’Reilly Medallist (2004-2005), Burke has the experience and talent to have a big say in proceedings.
Last meeting (reduced Limited-Overs match): Sydney University 7-117 (Nick Larkin 49, Liam Robertson 26, Tom Sowden 4-16) defeated Bankstown 7-115 (Phillip Wells 28, Brendan Smith 20no, Devlin Malone 3-27) by three wickets at Bankstown Memorial Oval.
The last clash between these two clubs ended with the students recording a nail-biting three wicket win with one ball remaining in a rain affected match.
In what was virtually a T20 match (the match was reduced to 21 overs a side) there were some great individual performances on show including Sydney University’s Nick Larkin’s impressive 49 and Bankstown bowler Timothy Sowden’s 4-16.
Sydney University: Nicholas Larkin(c), Aston May, Will Hay, Ryan Carters, Ed Cowan, Gregory Mail, Thomas Rogers, Ben Joy, Damien Mortimer, Timothy Ley, Liam Robertson, Devlin Malone, Hayden Kerr.
Bankstown: Jarrad Burke (c), Daniel Solway, Luke Reece, Philip Wells, Mitch Brown, Kerrod White, Nathan McAndrew, Michael Stretton, Brendan Smith, Thomas Sowden, Mitchell Phelps, Chris Ridley.
Umpires: Gerard Abood and Greg Davidson.
Final at Bankstown Memorial Oval. Starting times Friday 31 March (10.30am), Saturday 1 April (10:30am) & Sunday 2 April
Lower Grade Finals:
SECOND GRADE: Friday 31 March (10.30am), Saturday 1 April (10:30am) & Sunday 2 April
NORTHERN DISTRICT v SYDNEY at Mark Taylor Oval
Umpires: Ben Treloar & Anthony Wilds.
THIRD GRADE: Saturday 1 April (10:30am) & Sunday 2 April (9:30am)
NORTHERN DISTRICT v MOSMAN at Allan Border Oval.
Umpires: Simon Lightbody & Troy Penman
FOURTH GRADE: Saturday 1 April (10:30am) & Sunday 2 April (9:30am)
SYDNEY v GORDON at Drummoyne Oval
Umpires: Darren Goodger & Keiran Knight.
FIFTH GRADE: Saturday 1 April (10:30am) & Sunday 2 April (9:30am)
ST GEORGE v RANDWICK PETERSHAM at Hurstville Oval
Umpires: Andrew Hamilton & Phil Rainger.
McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket Final by numbers
- 64 First Grade finals have been held.
- 1st Sydney First Grade Final was in 1901-02 between Sydney and Leichhardt-Balmain.
- 14 Venues have hosted the First Grade Final. Bankstown’s 20 is the most followed by the SCG with 18.
- 12 - St George has won the most Finals, followed by Sydney University 7, with Western Suburbs and Bankstown 6.
- 17 - St George has played in the most finals, followed by Bankstown with 12, Western Suburbs on 11 and Northern District, Parramatta and Sydney University with 8.
- 232 - The highest score in a Final was by Grant Lambert for Fairfield-Liverpool against Manly-Warringah in 2005-06.
- 230* - Former Test opener Alan Turner has scored the only other double century in a Final, for Randwick against Penrith during 1979-80.