Copeland to be tested in WA
TRENT Copeland and his NSW team-mates will front up for arguably their most important fixture of the Sheffield Shield season this afternoon as their clash with Western Australia gets underway at the WACA Ground.
The Blues go into the eighth round of the competition leading the standings thanks to their excellent quotient of 1.1557, keeping them ahead of South Australia (1.1084), who otherwise sit level with the Blues on 24 competition points.
The match with the Warriors takes on extra significance, not just due to the Blues’ current standing, but also because of the Western Australians’ position in third.
Currently they sit on 20 points, and an outright win would at least draw them level with NSW and potentially put them in front if they achieved it along with a first innings win.
Alternatively, if the Blues were to win outright they would suddenly jump out to a gap of 10 points and almost assure themselves of a spot in the final with two rounds remaining.
“We’re getting to the business end of the season and WA are in the hunt for the final, only four points behind ourselves and SA. They’ll be tough to beat, especially at home,” NSW coach Trevor Bayliss said.
“Our record over the last few years hasn’t been too bad there. Doug Bollinger on a few occasions has won us matches.
“We’ll go over there with plenty of confidence, we’re sitting on top of the competition and would love to have a home final.”
The match will throw up a handful of interesting clashes, with NSW boasting four of the top nine wicket-takers in the competition, including Copeland, who’s six wickets last week against Victoria took him to 21 at 26 apiece for the season.
The absence of one of that quartet, spinner Steve O’Keefe, will leave a hole in the Blues’ attack that will be filled be newcomer Manjot Singh.
On the flipside, the Warriors’ Michael Hogan (27 at 22.6) is the only major stand-out, bowling wise, for the hosts.
With the bat it is a different story though, with three Warriors players in the top seven run-scorers including top-ranked Marcus North (759 at 94), with only Ryan Carters (eighth) from the Blues in similar company having scored 470 at 54.75.
Bayliss believes that the strength of the opposition top-order and the unfamiliar conditions won’t pose too much of a problem, and endorsed the addition of Singh to the squad in O’Keefe’s absence.
“Hopefully the WACA wicket is a little easier to bat on. We’ve got the quality in our attack to take wickets on any wicket,” he said.
“He’s [Singh] had a fair bit of experience in first grade cricket. He’s not a big turner of the ball, but he uses his pace very well and gets a bit of drift.
“He picked up five in the first innings in the second XI game over there [Perth] earlier in the season.”
BEST AGAINST THE BEST: Trent Copeland and his NSW Blues’ bowling team-mates will be tested when they take on the strong Western Australian batters in Perth. 021914copes
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