NSW aim for Shield final spot by Xmas
Nov. 28, 2019
NSW captain Peter Nevill has revealed the Sheffield Shield runaway leaders are looking at trying to seal a spot in the domestic cricket final before Christmas.
The Blues (31 points) have won their first four games and lead the ladder by almost 14 points going into their clash with last-placed Victoria (7.14) at the MCG starting on Friday.
NSW have never won five matches to start the Shield season.
They then play second-placed Queensland (17.38) at the SCG the following week in the final round before the ten-round competition takes a two-month hiatus for the BBL.
"It's a great position to be in at this stage," Nevill told AAP.
Nevill pointed out six wins was normally enough to host a final and five was sometimes enough to make the season decider.
The Blues have lost internationals Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon to the Test squad but Nevill emphasised NSW had some quality replacements.
"We've got some excellent players waiting to come back into the team the likes of Trent Copeland, who was the leading wicket taker in Shield cricket last year, Sean Abbott, who was on international duty recently, Harry Conway took ten wickets in a game against Queensland," Nevill said.
"It's important to have depth in your squad, it creates opportunities for people to throw their hands up when the Australian players won't feature, it's an opportunity to bed down a consistent team."
Victoria will be boosted by the return of Marcus Harris form Australia A duty and fellow batsmen Will Pucovski and Nic Maddinson, who received medical clearance to return to state cricket after a period of leave to treat mental health and wellbeing.
In other games starting on Friday, Tasmania (13.15 - 4th) host Queensland in Hobart and Western Australia (13.4 - 3rd) are at home to South Australia (7.5 - 5th).
Alex Carey will captain SA for the first time and spinner Adam Zampa rejoins the team.
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