It is semi-final time in the Kingsgrove Sports T20 Cup with eight teams to battle it out on the weekend to see who progresses to the next stage, while former Australian quick, Clint McKay, makes his first appearance for the season in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket.

Four teams from each of the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder conferences have qualified for the semi-finals of the T20 competition which start at 2.30pm this Sunday. Mosman and Hawkesbury finished top of the ladder in each group respectively.

The Whales play Sutherland in the first of the semi-finals for the Sixers conference in a replay of last weekend’s thrilling Super Over match at Glenn McGrath Oval. Mosman captain Scott Rodgie hit a six in the ultimate over of that match to get his team over the line.

Mosman welcome back New South Wales Blues’ batsman Daniel Hughes for the game at Allan Border Oval, in what will be his first match of the tournament. His addition will provide plenty of fire power at the top of the order, given his record in franchise T20 cricket of 565 runs in 25 matches at an impressive strike rate of 112.77.    

Hughes joins former South African one-day player Johan Botha in a very strong Whales’ outfit. However, Sutherland has its fair share of stars themselves with Sydney Thunder captain Shane Watson and Blues’ rookie leg spinner Daniel Fallins both named for Sunday’s clash.

In the other semi-final for the Sixers’ conference, second plays third with Gordon to meet Sydney at Chatswood Oval. Opener Tym Crawford will be looking to continue his good form in the shorter format for the home side after averaging 42.75 in the regular rounds.

Matthew Parkinson will be equally as important as a bowler for Gordon with 8 wickets at 14.13 for the Kingsgrove Sports T20 Cup. The spin and guile of Ben Manenti and pace of Nic Bills will also be key weapons in the Sydney attack.   

In the finals of the Sydney Thunder conference, Hawkesbury play Northern District in the first of the semi-finals. The Hawks are full of high quality performers including Josh Clarke, who is the third leading run-scorer for the T20 competition with 188 runs at 94.00.

Hawkesbury also have the luxury of a first class spin bowling duo in Arjun Nair and Usman Qadir, who between them took six wickets against Blacktown last weekend.

The Hawks’ opponents on Sunday, Northern District, will be no easy task with a number of very good players scattered throughout the XI including Jonathan Whealing, Henry Hunt, Andrew Harriott and fast bowler Ross Pawson.

The other semi-final in the Thunder conference features local rivals Parramatta against Penrith at Old Kings Oval. Ryan Gibson and Jordan Silk both join England International player Sam Billings and Brisbane Heat quick Josh Lalor in the Panthers’ squad to give the visitors’ prospects a real boost.

Although, Parramatta welcome back Sean Abbott, who has an enviable record in T20 franchise cricket. The Blues’ fast bowler averages 24.25 after taking 56 wickets at that level.

The winners of the respective semi-finals will play the preliminary finals and final on Sunday December 17 at the SCG.

McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket   

Sydney Thunder fast bowler Clint McKay will continue his preparations for the seventh edition of the KFC Big Bash League when he plays for Western Suburbs against Fairfield-Liverpool in one of the limited-overs fixtures scheduled on Saturday in the McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket.

He joins Thunder batsman Aiden Blizzard as new additions to the Wests’ side for this round. McKay further strengthens a quality bowling attack for the Magpies’, with leg spinner Johnathan Cook the leading wicket taker for the competition taking 30 wickets at 15.07.

The Fairfield-Liverpool side will be captained by Blues’ swing bowler Gurinder Sandhu and also features the in-form Luke Ohrynowsky, who will be looking to continue his break out season in the top grade, with 399 runs to his name at 44.33.

Trent Copeland also returns from Sheffield Shield duties for the Blues’ to captain St George against North Sydney at Hurstville Oval. Like many of the New South Wales’ bowlers in Hobart this week, Copeland struggled against the Tasmanians, but he still has 12 wickets at an average of 28.75 in the JLT Sheffield Shield this season.

Likewise, Sean Abbott is another notable inclusion for Parramatta in its match against Hawkesbury. The paceman averages 12.9 with the ball from the four matches he has played in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket this season. He also has a highest score of 102.

The table-topping Campbelltown-Camden will be seeking to maintain its position ahead of the pack in its match against the tenth-placed Gordon at Chatswood Oval. The hosts sit just six points outside the top six but will face a tough assignment against the Ghosts.

Captain Jarrad Burke will again be crucial to the prospects of Campbelltown-Camden, as he nears 10,000 runs and 600 wickets in First Grade. He currently trails Johnathan Cook by two wickets as the leading wicket taker in the competition this season.

The form of Philip Wells and Aaron Yabsley for the Ghosts has also been excellent at the top of the order. Wells is the leading run-scorer for Campbelltown-Camden with 414 runs at 46.00, but is yet to clinch his first century with a highest score of 99. Yabsley likewise has been in equally good touch in recent matches scoring three fifties for the season.

Eastern Suburbs are one of number teams applying the pressure to the Ghosts at the top of the pile, and a win over Blacktown on the weekend will help that cause. Blues’ Harry Conway and Will Somerville will both play for Eastern Suburbs.      

Manly-Warringah will be eager to regain its early season form when it plays fourth-placed Randwick Petersham after going three straight matches without a win.

Manly currently sit in eighth position on the ladder – a single point outside the top six. Captain Chris Green has been the shining light for the men from the Northern Beaches’ taking 22 wickets with some very accurate off spin bowling. His best figures of 7-64 coming against North Sydney.

He will need to be on target again on Saturday to contain the batting abilities of Anthony Sams, Shaun Eaton and Jason Hughes, who have all started the season very well.

The defending champions Sydney University are perfectly positioned for another shot at the title and can further its claims against Northern District on Saturday.

The students are currently third on the ladder and another healthy return for fast bowler Tim Ley will see him pass 300 wickets in First Grade. As has been the case throughout the season, the bowling exploits of Ley along with young leg spinner Devlin Malone will be vital to University’s chances.    

Tim Cummins has also been exemplary behind the stumps for Sydney University leading the number of dismissals in the competition with 15 catches and three stumpings. Blues' batsman Ed Cowan returns from playing duties in the JLT Sheffield Shield to provide some invaluable experience for the students. 

Sydney find themselves on the fringe of the six in seventh place on quotient and will play Bankstown this weekend. Leading run-scorer Daniel Solway throughout the McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket will be the key wicket for the Tigers, after consecutive centuries for the Bulldogs to bring his tally to four hundreds for the campaign.

In other matches played this Saturday, Mosman are at home to Penrith and Sutherland host UNSW. All matches start at 10.00am on Saturday.