Toby Gray has been called up for representative duties and Zane Pearce suffered a broken finger on day one, but despite the mid-game challenges Belmont skipper Marcus Hainsworth knows one thing.
The unbeaten batsman wants to be there at the end to help the visitors chase down the 92 runs required for victory against Newcastle City at No.1 Sportsground on Saturday.
“I’m very keen [for Saturday]. Everyone knew they would have to shoulder a bit more of the responsibility when Mark [Littlewood] and Ray [Cooper] decided not to play this season,” Hainsworth told the Newcastle Herald.
“Everyone else had to stand up and as captain it’s probably my job to get us home here.”
Hainsworth will resume at 50 not out with Belmont 3-72 in pursuit of City’s first-innings total of 163.
Gray (2 not out) was set to join his captain at the crease on day two but was a late inclusion this week to play for ACT-NSW Country at the Under-19 National Championships in South Australia.
The teenage leg-spinner took 2-31 off his 10 overs against Northern Territory at Port Adelaide Reserve on Friday following figures of 3-11 playing for Newcastle in the NSW Premier T20 Cup in Sydney on Sunday.
“It’s bittersweet,” Hainsworth said.
“He’s a very cool, calm and collected 17-year-old so it’s always nice to have him out there at the crease. But this will probably be his last year for us, he’ll probably move onto bigger and better things so good luck to him.”
Gray will be replaced out in the middle by Luke Muddle, a round-six centurion who was unavailable on the weekend.
However, Belmont may only bat with 10 players. Pearce could still require surgery following his injury on Saturday.
City’s wickets so far have been shared between Jonty Major, Frank Walsh and Daniel Hancock.
Elsewhere and Toronto (3-113) resume in a similar situation against defending champions Wests (209) at Harker Oval, needing 97 runs with seven wickets in hand. Adrian Chad (21) and Ryan Fenning (31) are the Kookaburras’ not out batsmen.
Cardiff-Boolaroo (1-76) have already made a strong start at home against Stockton and Northern Districts (164). The hosts require a further 89 runs to win and have nine wickets in hand. Varunesh Sharma (15) is unbeaten while Rahul Bakshi (16) retired hurt on day one.
University and Hamilton-Wickham, who will play against each other in Sunday’s one-day final, are chasing down Merewether (8-230) and Wallsend (8-317) respectively. Uni pair Andrew Harriott and Nathan Hudson are both coming off hundreds for the unbeaten competition leaders while the Webber twins, Sam and Matt, made a combined 181 runs for Hamwicks last start.
Outright points are on the cards at Kahibah Oval. Charlestown (3-117) and Waratah-Mayfield (116 & 0-1) are level.