Sydney Premier Cricket preview: 11 players who will push their NSW state claims

The spotlight is shining brighter than ever on Sydney’s Premier Cricket competition, with NSW talent manager David Freedman imploring the game’s young stars to use grade cricket to “bash down the door” for higher honours.

With little to no second XI state cricket expected to be possible due to COVID-19 restrictions this summer, performances in Premier Cricket have never been more vital to push for call-ups to the NSW squad for four-day and one-day games, as well as Big Bash contracts.

And, after a nervous period when it looks unlikely to start on time, Premier Cricket gets underway on Saturday with 10 fixtures across Sydney – and a wealth of young talent on show, mixed in with some familiar faces.

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“Especially now as there’s going to be minimal second XI cricket this year so grade cricket’s going to be the main barometer,” Freedman told The Daily Telegraph.

“We’ve been at pains to tell that to all our squad guys – guys that won’t be going to our hub in Adelaide. Grade cricket’s where it’s at.

“I’m really excited to see some of these fringe guys to really bash that door down and force their way into the main side.”

The likes of Fairfield-Liverpool pair Arjun Nair and Param Uppal have been in the NSW system in recent years, while further north Manly youngster Ollie Davies and Mosman’s Lachlan Hearne are considered two of the most promising young batsmen in the state.

Uppal recently lost his NSW contract, but Freedman said this summer – and the heightened interest in Premier Cricket – presents the perfect opportunity for the promising all-rounder to remind the cricket community of his qualities.

Steve O’Keefe will feature for Manly. Picture: Phil HillyardSource:News Corp Australia

“I’ve got no doubt he’ll come again, his all-round skillset is very attractive,” Freedman said.

“He just needs to go away and work out how to make those big scores and not be a bits and pieces player.

“He needs to dominate with the bat, and then his bowling becomes a bit of a bonus. We still have a very high opinion and I’ve got no doubt he’ll figure in NSW teams down the track.”

Baxter Holt made his Sheffield Shield debut last season and is regarded as the natural successor to veteran Blues wicketkeeper. He’ll take the gloves for Eastern Suburbs in their round 1 fixture against UTS North Sydney.

COVID-19 is likely to strip the competition of some of it’s star power, with fringe NSW players called into the Sheffield Shield hub – and quarantine measures making it difficult for the state players to get back and line up for their club sides.

But there’s still the familiar faces of former Test star Steve O’Keefe (Manly), and experienced paceman Josh Lalor (Penrith) to compliment the young talents of rising spin prodigy Tanveer Sangha (Campbelltown-Camden) and ambidextrous spin bowler Nivethan Radhakrishnan (who moved to Sydney University this summer).

XI TO KEEP AN EYE ON

1. Ryan McElduff (Sydney Uni)

2. Arjun Nair (Fairfield-Liverpool)

3. Param Uppal (Fairfield-Liverpool)

4. Ollie Davies (Manly)

5. Damien Mortimer (Sydney Uni)

6. Lachlan Hearne (Mosman)

7. Nivethan Radhakrishnan (Sydney Uni)

8. Baxter Holt (Eastern Suburbs)

9. Tanveer Sangha (Campbelltown)

10. Steve O’Keefe (Manly)

11. Josh Lalor (Penrith)

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Originally published asSydney grade XI pushing their NSW claims

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