New South Wales captain Peter Nevill is delighted by the development the Blues squad has made this season ahead of the JLT Sheffield Shield Final against Victoria starting Thursday.
Nevill returns to the Blues 13-man squad for the Final after the birth of his first child during the week.
Speaking to the media at Junction Oval on Wednesday, Nevill said it was very pleasing to see the progress the broader Blues contracted squad had made this season, culminating in the first Shield final for NSW since it last claimed the title in 2013/14.
“We obviously had quite a few guys that left at the end of last season. We pretty much upgraded our rookies and brought new rookies on,” Nevill said.
“It’s a pretty young and impressionable group.
“(It) was wonderful to have myself and (head coach Phil Jaques) certainly work very close, really trying to drive the direction of where we wanted to take the team and take the group”.
Six players have made their debuts in the Shield this season.
Two of those players, teenagers Jack Edwards, 18, and Jason Sangha, 19, have played all 10 Shield rounds this season. Both made their maiden Sheffield Shield centuries at the SCG in November.
Nevill said he was really excited to be part of a Shield final again after five seasons and feeling well prepared, despite an eventful week.
“I’m feeling pretty good at the moment, drinking a fair bit of coffee,” Nevill said with a smile.
“(I) had a good hit yesterday in Sydney, (and will have) another good out here (today) in fantastic conditions.”
The Blues are seeking their 47th Shield title when the final starts on Thursday. Their opponents, Victoria, have 31.
Nevill arrived in Melbourne on Thursday morning and a final XI is yet to be decided.
“I’ve got to have a formal chat with the coach about it, probably have a look at the wicket first.
“Have a good look at the conditions … but I can’t imagine we’d be making major changes.”
Nevill is particularly proud of the progress made by fast bowler Sean Abbott, 27, this season.
Abbott has claimed 31 Shield wickets at 21.48. He has returned 15 wickets in his last two matches, including two five-wicket hauls, and career best First Class figures of 7-45 that bowled the Blues to victory on the fourth morning of the last game against Tasmania.
“He’s been spectacular, you’d almost call it his break out season,” Nevill said.
“So threatening, so skilful, swinging the ball both ways with great control.
“His control of the Duke ball has been particularly impressive. It can be a challenging ball for some bowlers to bowl with, but he’s been able to harness it really well.
“I saw (his name) on the news the other night getting spoken about a possible Ashes call up, exciting times for him, if he can have a similar impact in this match, who knows?”
NSW Blues squad
Peter NEVILL (c)
SHEFFIELD SHIELD FINAL
NSW Blues v Victoria
Junction Oval, Melbourne, 28 March – 1 April
Live coverage on Fox Cricket and ABC Radio