A grueling and hard fought McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket has come down to four teams with the glory of playing in the final the reward for the victors.
With state based players returning for a few of the teams, the quality of the matches promise to be at a very high standard as well as exciting for those in attendance.
The first semi-final pits Minor Premiers Sydney University up against Parramatta at Sydney University Oval.
Both sides advanced to the semi-final stage on the back of draws after two of the three quarter-finals were washed out last weekend.
It is to be the first time these two sides are to meet in a semi-final, and the first time Parramatta have been in semi-final since the 1993-1994 season.
The students are bolstered by the returns of NSW Blues squad members Ed Cowan and Nick Larkin.
Cowan has been in irresistible touch for the Blues pushing close to 1,000 runs for the season including three centuries and five fifties.
Similarly, Larkin has been in good form for the Students in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket action scoring 975 runs @69.60 in all formats with four centuries (including a double century earlier on in the season).
Adding in experienced players such as Ryan Carters and Greg Mail, the students appear in good stead to continue its good form.
One player to keep an eye on for the home side is young leg spinner Devin Malone.
Malone has shown his ability in the 2016-2017 season, capturing 41 wickets in all First Grade formats.
He has shown skill to turn the ball and create mistakes from the batsmen through the season and if he can get some early wickets on the weekend then the students could find themselves in a very strong position.
Opposition Parramatta who finished fourth on the ladder in the regular season will be delighted to see the return of Sean Abbott.
The NSW Blues and Sydney Sixers all-rounder is a brilliant swing bowler and a more than capable batsmen with devastating striking power. His ability with both bat and ball cold become pivotal to Parramatta’s chance of victory.
With predicted humidity and low cloud cover, the conditions could play into the hands of Abbott with ball in hand.
Parramatta’s other linchpin with the ball will be opening bowler Ben Martin.
Martin made headlines in round seven of the McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket season when he took a 10-wicket haul against St George that recorded a vital win for Parramatta.
He continued that rich vein of form until the end of the regular season and finished with 42 wickets in all formats with an average of less than 20.
Martin will be hope to replicate his last outing against Sydney University when he took 6-89.
Martin also has a safe pair of hands, as evident by his six catches during the season.
Last Meeting: Sydney University 8-296 declared (Mortimer 85, Kerr 42 not out, Martin 6-89) Defeated Parramatta 130 (Affleck 29, Malone 3-47, May 2-5) by 166 runs at Sydney University Oval.
The second semi-final will see second placed Gordon against third placed Bankstown.
Gordon were one of just two teams that got on the field last week and made its performance count with a 88-run defeat of Sydney. Eliot Richtor was again in the thick of the action collecting three wickets whilst fellow paceman Matthew Junk collected figures of 4-29.
Bankstown on the other hand qualified for the semi-final after its match against Parramatta was rained out.
Both clubs have been consistent performers throughout the 2016-2017 season.
Gordon lost just three times all season whilst Bankstown finished its campaign with nine victories.
Gordon will be hoping that the home ground advantage helps it across the line.
It will once again heavily rely on the strength of its batting an in particular Captain Steve Colley who has dispatched over 600 runs off the blade during the season in all formats.
With good support regularly being given by Eliot Richtor and opening batsman Axel Cahlin who has scored more than 700 runs, Gordon will be hoping for more of the same this weekend in an attempt to make the final and cap off a successful season.
Its bowling department has been in good form all season led by Matthew Junk who has collected figures of 7-58 in his last two bowling innings.
Despite missing English import Mason Crane, the home side still has plenty of quality to trouble the Bankstown batsman.
Bankstown will attempt to make it back to back finals after lifting up the Belvidere Cup last season.
It has been led along this season by run machine Phillip Wells (871 runs @43.60 including three centuries) and Mitch Brown (754 runs @39.70).
These two batters have had consistent success which has eased the burden on the Bankstown bowlers.
If the visitors can again find success with the bat then it will have the faith that its bowlers can do the damage as it attempts to gain entry into the final.
Both these sides played in a semi final in the 1993-1994 season, where Bankstown recorded a victory on first innings to make the final which it went on to win.
Last Meeting: Gordon 297 (Cahlin 135, Richtor 57. McAndrew 3-37) Defeated Bankstown 210 (White 73, Wells 33, Junk 3-17, Stobo 3-60) and 2-79 (Brown 34 not out) by 87 runs at Jensen Park.