District cricket: Import stars for Charlestown but skipper says best to come

KNOCKED OVER: Merewether batsman Ben Egan has his castle disturbed by Wests'  Stewart Morgan after a well-made 51 in the Lions' three-wicket loss at Harker Oval. Pictures: Jonathan Carroll
KNOCKED OVER: Merewether batsman Ben Egan has his castle disturbed by Wests' Stewart Morgan after a well-made 51 in the Lions' three-wicket loss at Harker Oval. Pictures: Jonathan Carroll

SRI LANKAN import Saliya Saman produced one of the best performances of the Newcastle District season to lead Charlestown to an outright win over Waratah but captain Steve Mace is confident the all-rounder will step up another level in the finals.

HIGH FIVE: Wests keeper Andrew Shakespeare and Stewart Morgan.

HIGH FIVE: Wests keeper Andrew Shakespeare and Stewart Morgan.

Waratah resumed their second innings on Saturday at Kahibah Oval 33 runs behind Charlestown’s 2-146 dec. They went on to make 164, leaving the Magpies to make 120 for maximum points. They reached the target four down.

DUCKING AND WEAVING: Merewether's Zac McGuigan evades a short ball.

DUCKING AND WEAVING: Merewether's Zac McGuigan evades a short ball.

Saman took match figures of 9-21 from 31 overs and was unbeaten in both innings with the bat, scoring 50 and 53.

“Sammy is a quality player,” Mace said. “He has played first-class cricket in Sri Lanka and had nine seasons in England. He knows what he has to do and he does it. He is a good player and fits in well –  a good pick up. He is sharp enough with the ball and mixes it up a bit. He is among the best half dozen cricketers in town and he will step it up when it matters. We have other guys around him, Bayley [McGill] and Jed [Dickson], and we are looking for them to step up as well.”

The outright moved Charlestown to 59 points, nine behind second placed Merewether and the same distance in front of equal fourth-placed City and Wallsend with two rounds remaining.

“It was a good, hard win which is what we want,” Mace said. “The deck was pretty flat and we had to wiggle every one of them out. It gives us a little bit of a buffer [to fourth place].”

Charlestown meet Toronto and Stockton in the closing rounds.

“We just have to take care of our games,” Mace said. “If we do that, we will get into the finals and play who we play from there on. There are areas we need to improve. We could be a bit sharper in the field. We have been OK but we could take it up a notch. We need to get a bit more solid with our batting and make sure everyone is contributing. We can improve a lot and we need to.”

Wests (7-194) took the lead in the race for the minor premiership after a three-wicket win over Merewether (8-192) at Harker Oval in one of four matches reduced to 45-overs each.

Ben Egan (51) and Zac McGuigan (52) rescued the Lions after they were 3-15.

It wasn’t enough against the powerful Rosellas. Joey Price opened with a quickfire 30 before Josh Emerton made an unbeaten 82.

In the other rain-affected games, Belmont (5-162) accounted for Hamilton Wickham (9-159) at Miller Field, Toronto (7-139) were too strong for University (70 and 3-85) at Uni No.1, Keith Moody made an unbeaten 98 to lead Stockton (5-242) to a successful run chase against City (5-238) at Lynn Oval.

In the other two-day match, Wallsend (8-291 dec) completed an outright over Cardiff (50 and 160).

Meanwhile, Hamilton, University and Belmont have qualified for the semi-finals of the Summer Bash T20 competition, with the fourth spot to be decided on quotients after a dramatic final round on Sunday.