Blues seamer Trent Copeland is excited that three players could make their First Class debuts for NSW in the must-win final round of the JLT Sheffield Shield against Tasmania at Blundstone Arena starting on Wednesday.
Batsman Nick Bertus, 25, fast bowler Liam Hatcher, 22, and rookie wicketkeeper-batter Baxter Holt, 19, have all been selected in a 14-man squad for the fixture.
Holt is on stand-by for Blues captain Peter Nevill, who did not travel with the side to Tasmania on Monday due to the expected birth of his first child.
Recent Australian Test debutant Kurtis Patterson will lead NSW if Nevill is unavailable.
The Blues must win against Tasmania to guarantee their place in the Sheffield Shield final against Victoria starting on 28 March at Junction Oval.
Copeland said he and the team wish Nevill all the best with the birth of his first child.
“This is something that is far more important than any cricket match … I’m so excited for him and Sammy,” Copeland said.
He explained that the three potential debutants have been working hard behind the scenes to earn their call-up to the squad.
“Baxter Holt is the Australian Under 19s keeper, he went over to Sri Lanka this year (with that squad) and made his debut for the Thunder.”
“Nick Bertus has been churning out runs in Grade cricket for years and deserves his chance.
“Liam Hatcher … bowls 145km/hr, he’s red-headed, he’s angry at times and he’s got a bit about him that I think will lend himself to playing well at Shield level.”
All three performed consistently throughout the Toyota Futures League season that concluded last week.
Hatcher claimed 18 wickets in his last two Futures League matches including two five-wicket hauls and career best figures of 7-43.
Bertus scored 418 runs at an average of 38 across both the T20 and four-day formats. It complements his second season of more than 1,000 runs for his club, Parramatta, in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket during 2018/19.
In his second season at the Futures League level, Holt has scored 310 runs at 51.67 for NSW Metro, including his maiden century of 151 against Western Australia. The teenager also completed 10 catches and one stumping with the gloves.
Copeland is also nearing the great Alan Davidson on the list of all-time leading wicket-takers in First Class cricket for NSW.
He trails the former left-arm Australian fast bowler by six wickets in 11th place on the list.
“I think I’m going to really sit back when I finish my career and probably take it all in,” Copeland said.
“Someone like Doug Bollinger (who is less than 30) wickets in front of me as well, he’s a guy that means a lot to me having played with him for 10 years.
“Then you listen to (names) like Davidson and Benaud … and then you talk even further ahead, Stuey MacGill, Greg (Mo) Matthews, it’s all pretty surreal to even think I’m in the same realm.”
NSW Blues squad
Peter Nevill ( c )