NSW coach Jeff Cook hopes a pair of late Twenty20 victories will provide his squad with the confidence to go and claim the One Day title at the Australian Country Championships in Wollongong.
Three early defeats ruined NSW chances of winning the shortest format of the game, but a pair of successes against South Australia and Victoria over the weekend has given the Blues renewed belief as the competition prepares to return to the One Day format on Monday.
“It was good to get the two wins at the back end of that format because it will give us a bit of confidence going into the one-dayers,” Cook said.
NSW hold a slender lead at the top of the ladder with two victories from two matches heading into the final three games.
Queensland are nipping at their heals, with percentages the only thing separating the pair. Queensland fired out a warning shot to the Blues with victory in the Twenty20 competition over the weekend.
Pitted against Western Australia in their final match on Sunday, the Brahmans needed a win to finish atop the ladder.
Set a testing 148 for victory, Queensland’s James Spargo scored 59 off 39 balls to help his side reach the target with two balls to spare.
They will look to complete the double in the One Day format. Cook hopes his team can halt that ambition.
“Queensland have certainly set the bar and it is up to us to improve our performance,” the NSW coach said.
“[When he play] we have to try to get that win against them to get to the top.
“We have South Australia before then and they are a well drilled side.
“We are going to have to be on the ball.”
NSW play South Australia on Monday. The Outbacks will still consider themselves a chance of claiming the tournament with a win and a loss to their name through the opening two games.
The Blues were able to get the better of them in a rescheduled Twenty20 match on Saturday morning.
NSW followed up the win with a determined victory over Victoria on Sunday.
After setting a measly 109 for victory, NSW were able to restrict Victoria to 7/106 at Keira Oval.
All-rounder Pat Darwen was the standout, top scoring with 27 runs before chipping in with commendable figures of 2/21 off four overs.
“We didn’t bat very well but we scrapped to win,” Cook said.
“These tournaments are about staying in the fight and not giving up at certain times.
“I thought that was pleasing.”
In Sunday’s other match, South Australia total of 7/135 proved too much for East Asia Pacific, who could only manage 9/105.
AUSTRALIAN COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
One Day Matches, Monday (10am)
East Asia Pacific v Western Australia Country, Figtree Oval
Queensland Country v Victoria Country, Hollymount Park East
South Australia Country v New South Wales Country, King George V Oval