SCOTT Mackenzie can’t recall the last time Waratah-Mayfield beat Merewether in Newcastle District Cricket first grade. Certainly not in his four-season tenure as captain.
“We knocked them off a couple of times in under-21s but in first grade, I don’t think I ever have,” the 24-year-old left-hand batsman said.
The Tahs are well positioned at Townson Oval, reducing the home side to 5-67 in reply to the Tahs’ 126, but Mackenzie expects nothing less that a battle to the end for 1st-innings points.
“Merewether are not like other teams in Newcastle where you can get them six or seven down and trust that the bowlers will roll through the rest,” Mackenzie said. “They will fight for every run. If Simon Moore or Josh Geary doesn’t get the runs for them, someone else does. Tim O’Neill came in at No.10 last round and scored 80 odd. Something crazy like that.”
On Saturday, Geary will resume on four alongside rookie Chad Mayo (six).
“It’s the biggest cliche in cricket, but the first hour will be crucial,” Mackenzie said. “I’m anticipating the pitch to be a lot harder and more batsmen-friendly this week. We have a few match-ups, a few guys who bowl well to certain batsmen. If we can bowl well, build a bit of pressure and take a couple of early wickets, you never know.”
Left-arm medium pacer Jonty Durrheim (1-12) and leg-spinner Nathan Robins (2-26) helped put the Tahs on the front foot.
“The bowlers did really well last week,” Mackenzie said. “It wasn’t as if one bowler did the job with three or four wickets. Everyone built pressure.”
Merewether captain Simon Moore, who has been battling a viral infection, agreed that the first hour would be telling.
“We need to start well,” said Moore, who was run out for two backing up at the bowler’s end. “They are a pretty young side Waratah and you have to love their attitude. We had them 5-10 last week and some teams would have just thrown the towel in, but they just kept fighting and got to 127. Now they have us under pressure. The ball is 40 overs old so there shouldn’t be too much in it. We just need a good partnership. We still have some batting there. It’s an important game. We play for the Gilmour-Edwards trophy across the grades and it’s a trophy that holds great significance for both clubs.”
Elsewhere on Saturday, Wallsend will resume at 0-12 in pursuit of University’s 5 (dec) 359 at Uni No.1.
Hamilton-Wickham (161 and 1-20) will hunt for maximum points against Newcastle City (95) at Passmore Oval.
Stockton (8-63) need a miracle to chase down Toronto (161) at Lynn Oval.
The other two games had the first day’s play washed out and will consist of 45-overs each.
Belmont host premiers Wests at Cahill Oval and Cardiff-Boolaroo meet Charlestow at Cardiff No.2.
Meanwhile, former Belmont and Newcastle City paceman Greg West has been named in the NSW squad for the Sheffield Shield clash against Western Australia starting in Perth on Tuesday.
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