Stage set for epic contest

It was a battle of attrition at No 1 Sportsground on Sunday in the final between minor premiers Wests Cricket Club and Merewether in the Newcastle District cricket first grade final.

The first day of the contest was abandoned on Saturday after rain had dampened both the wicket and the outfield. A full day’s play went ahead yesterday and now the second day is scheduled for Good Friday. Not the perfect scenario for amateur cricketers who maybe have planned a holiday away, but that is the only way to complete what is shaping as an epic contest.

Aaron Wivell tucks one to fine leg

Wests were sent in to bat on a wicket that was not unlike the previous weekend’s flat and slow track for the semi-final.

Merewether’s bowlers, particularly Sam Palmer, took advantage of the early movement and had Wests on the ropes at 4-27 with their star opener Joseph Price back in the hut.

In a batting display that epitomised their rise to the minor premiership in 2017-18, Wests dug in and batted almost the entire 90 overs, compiling a superb 210, with only the odd boundary troubling the scorers on the lush outfield.

Joseph Price on the long walk back to the pavilion

It was skipper James King who stood up to be counted when it mattered most. King batted for 257 balls, to remain not out 93, and more importantly combined in partnerships of 51 with Aaron Wivell, 51 with Cooper Lennox and 40 with Thomas Allen.

While it was Sam Palmer who struck early, it was the unerringly accurate left arm orthodox spin of Timothy O’Neill, 3-51 from 28 overs, which kept the brakes on King and his batting partners.

Sam Palmer was Merewether’s best on Sunday

Weather fine, track good, the stage is now set for an epic final day this Friday.

Wests CC 210 (James King 93 not out, Aaron Wivell 34, Cooper Lennox 32, Thomas Allen 12, Sam Palmer 4-36, Josh Geary 2-52, Timothy O’Neill 3-51, Zac McGuigan 1-25) versus Merewether 0-2.