Former NSW Country representative Mark Littlewood remembers carrying an injury into his last Newcastle District Cricket Association grand final, but it won’t be the case this time around.
The teams in this season’s first grade decider, minor premiers Belmont and second-placed Hamilton-Wickham, should be well rested having taken to the field just once in the last three weeks.
It was the Twenty20 showdown against each other at No.1 Sportsground on March 12 but either side of that game two-day fixtures have been washed out, including the weekend’s semi-finals and a last round encounter between themselves.
Belmont leader Littlewood said the current situation raised both positive and negative points.
“It has been a weird kind of end to the season, but it’s good and bad,” Littlewood said.
“We haven’t played that much recently but we’ve had the T20 final and still been training at indoor, so we might be a little bit rusty but not too bad and should be able to pick up where we left off.
“It also means we’re fresh and ready to go. I remember going into the 2008-2009 grand final busted because of a foot injury, which made life a bit more difficult, but now there’s been enough time for everyone to sort out those little niggles.”
Hamwicks captain Josh Trappel said he was confident last year’s beaten grand finalists could adapt to the environment.
“You’ve just got to deal with the cards you’re dealt,” Trappel said.
“We’ve still been training and even though there hasn’t been much cricket everyone in the team knows their role. Once we’re out there I back my boys to just do their job.
“And even without all of this, the grand final is still going to be highly contested.”
Since the start of February these squads have completed only three of six matches.
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast showers for the rest of this week.
The end-of-season fixture can be played over the course of four days, rolling into next weekend (April 1-2).
Meanwhile, venues for the lower grade grand finals were released on Monday with minor premiers Toronto, University and Hamwicks all granted home ground advantage this weekend in seconds, thirds and fourths respectively. Charlestown are the opponents in fourths while Merewether feature in the other two deciders.
First Grade: Belmont v Hamilton-Wickham at No.1 Sportsground
Second Grade: Toronto v Merewether at Ron Hill Oval
Third Grade: University v Merewether at University Oval
Fourth Grade: Hamilton-Wickham v Charlestown at Passmore Oval