NSW opener Nic Maddinson hopes a personal return to form can propel the Blues to their 46th Sheffield Shield title when the final against Western Australia begins at Manuka Oval on Friday.
The South Coast product has been a mainstay at the top of the Blues order since his promotion to opener.
He managed three 50s this season but admitted he was frustrated by the lack of a big score. He said the Shield final was the perfect stage to turn it around.
‘‘I’ve had the opportunity to open the batting, which is what I was after going into this year but I’ve been pretty average I think,’’ Maddinson said.
‘‘I started off the year and I thought I was batting pretty well, I got a few starts and got onto to two or three fifties in a row but never went on to get a hundred, which I’ve been disappointed about.
‘‘Since Christmas I think my form has been quite poor but hopefully I can turn it around in this game.’’
National skipper Michael Clarke was ruled out of the match this week after scans revealed the full extent of a shoulder injury suffered during his 161 against South Africa but Maddinson said the return of Test players Moises Henriques and skipper Stephen Smith, who guided the Blues to victory with a second innings 89 against the Warriors last week, will adequately bolster the Blues batting.
‘‘When you’ve got the best batsmen in the country and quite possibly the world [Clarke] you want them to play whenever they’re available but I think the guys who have been playing throughout the season together are prepared enough,’’ Maddinson said.
‘‘We’ve still got Moises Henriques and Steve Smith back anyway so they add that boost to our batting.
‘‘We had Steve back last week and just to watch the way he’s developed over the past six months playing for Australia... his game’s gone to a new level.’’
Maddinson said the Blues may feel the absence of regular spearhead Doug Bollinger – who was called into the national T20 side to replace the injured Mitchell Johnson – more heavily against a batting lineup that includes centurion Shaun Marsh and Shield player of the year Marcus North.
‘‘They had three guys in the top leading run-scorers for the season in Marcus North, Adam Voges and Sam Whiteman, so they’re three massive wickets,’’ Maddinson said.
‘‘All their top five or six batsmen have scored a lot of runs this year.
‘‘Having Marsh come back into their team after the South African gives their middle order a boost,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve done a lot of hard work to get the opportunity to play in a Shield final, as has Western Australia, so it’s going to be five days of hard work.’’