Newcastle District Cricket Association: Wet weather wreaks havoc with semi-finals this weekend

SHOT: Hamilton-Wickham all-rounder Sam Webber. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
SHOT: Hamilton-Wickham all-rounder Sam Webber. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

LATEST: Hamilton-Wickham will get a shot at redemption after progressing to the Newcastle District Cricket Association first grade grand final for a second straight season.

Hamwicks, who lost the title to Merewether last summer, went through after this weekend’s semi-final against Toronto at Passmore Oval was washed out. The decision to officially call off the match was announced on Sunday morning.

The Pumas will now meet minor premiers Belmont in the decider.

Both advanced as the higher-ranked team.

Belmont had been scheduled to tackle University at No.1 Sportsground in the other semi-final, but the game was abandoned on Saturday morning.

The top-two showdown between Belmont and Hamwicks is set to take place at No.1 Sportsground on March 25 and 26. The fixture can be played over the course of four days, incorporating the spare weekend (April 1-2).

Meanwhile, all district semi-finals have been washed out this weekend.

It means Merewether will feature in both second and third grade deciders against Toronto and University respectively.

The fourth grade grand final will have Hamwicks meeting Charlestown.

Venues for the lower grade encounters have yet to be determined.

DECIDER: Belmont skipper Mark Littlewood. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DECIDER: Belmont skipper Mark Littlewood. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

UPDATE: Minor premiers Belmont will contest the Newcastle District Cricket Association first grade decider after this weekend’s semi-final against University at No.1 Sportsground was washed out.

The decision to call off the fixture was made following a ground inspection before play was scheduled to start on Saturday morning.

It was deemed that no play would be possible across the next 48 hours, even as a reduced overs one-day match at some stage on Sunday.

Belmont advance to the grand final as the higher-ranked team.

University, who finished fourth, bow out of the title race.

In the other semi-final between Hamilton-Wickham and Toronto, there will be no play at Passmore Oval on Saturday but the venue is set to be be reassessed on Sunday morning.

UNCERTAINTY: Stand-in University skipper Luke Stewart after hitting the winning runs against Belmont in the Tom Locker Cup final at No.1 Sportsground earlier this season. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

UNCERTAINTY: Stand-in University skipper Luke Stewart after hitting the winning runs against Belmont in the Tom Locker Cup final at No.1 Sportsground earlier this season. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

PREVIOUS: University will be pushing to play against minor premiers Belmont in this weekend’s semi-final at No.1 Sportsground and keep their season alive despite the recent rainfall experienced across the region.

The students must play at some stage and win to have any chance of advancing to the Newcastle District Cricket Association first grade grand final otherwise higher-ranked Belmont will progress to the 2016-2017 decider.

All grounds scheduled to host district play-offs, including Passmore Oval where Hamilton-Wickham and Toronto were set to meet in the other first grade semi-final, have been officially washed out Saturday and will be reassessed on Sunday to determine whether a limited overs fixture can take place.

As of Friday evening No.1 Sportsground was the only exception and University skipper Luke Stewart, standing in for regular captain Matt Gawthrop (wedding), said his side were keen to have a crack eventually.

We'll definitely be pushing to play."

Stand-in University skipper Luke Stewart

“We’ll definitely be pushing to play,” Stewart said. 

“The wicket should be alright because it has been covered and was already prepared for a game last weekend, the main issue will be the run ups and outfield.”

University, who defeated Belmont at the same venue in the Tom Locker Cup final earlier this summer, are also without injured duo Liam McKechnie and Cameron Dack from their strongest line up.

Belmont welcome back Jace Lawson and Toby Gray, who missed Sunday’s T20 final loss to Hamwicks, and leader Mark Littlewood said the battle was putting an uncontrollable factor like the weather to one side.

“It’s pretty unlikely [getting on], but we just need to be prepared to play at some stage,” Littlewood said.

“We’ve got to be ready to roll with whatever situation gets tossed up.”

Second-placed Hamwicks and third-placed Toronto, who went head-to-head in a dramatic semi-final 12 months ago, will wait until Sunday to see if the rain eases and play goes ahead.

“It is what it is,” Toronto captain Paul Toole said. 

Hamwicks mentor Josh Trappel was also adopting “a wait and see” approach, but if the Pumas skip through he was hoping to rectify last year’s grand final defeat after successfully defending their T20 crown on Sunday. 

District by-laws state a minimum 20 overs is required per team in a one-day match.

Play was supposed to start at 10.30am on both days.

Meanwhile, in third grade University booked an early ticket to next weekend’s decider with their semi-final against Stockton-Raymond Terrace at University 1 already washed out both days.