MATTHEW PHELPS
MATTHEW PHELPS

Phelps to give Blues the winning edge

By BRAD GREENSHIELDS

A SORT of homecoming for NSW batsman Matthew Phelps has him jumping out of his skin in the lead up to the ING Cup one day match against Victoria to be held at the International Stadium on January 14.

When Phelps was a Clunes youngster developing his cricket in the Lismore Juniors, he dreamed of one day being able to represent his state and now the 33-year-old can't believe that he'll be able to do that in front of his home fans.

The Coffs Harbour match is followed by a Pura Cup game in Lismore, also against the Bushrangers.

"I'm looking forward to it, I don't think there's too many guys that actually played in their hometown, especially at first class level," the gun batsman admitted.

"From my perspective I can't wait. Lismore's always been a good track for me when I was growing up, I got a lot of runs there and I played a few times in Coffs Harbour, not at the International Stadium but made plenty of runs here at various times so hopefully plenty of local people come out to watch the game and hopefully I can score a hundred in both games, that would be good."

Phelps isn't alone when it comes to Blues members looking forward to the match at the Stadium. Having played here before, the players can't wait to reacquaint themselves with the facilities in the town.

"We know we can expect a nice hard flat wicket and the outfield was great when we were here and it'll be great come the 14th of January," he said.

"Both Lismore and Coffs are quite good regional centres that put a lot of time and effort into their sporting venues so we're expecting a first-class standard pitch and outfield."

The two previous occasions that an ING Cup match has been played in Coffs Harbour, NSW have been on the wrong end of the result but Phelps believes that the team is very keen to record a victory this time around.

"It has been mentioned and we're certainly looking to rectify that with this game, we're leading the competition this year so every match we play is vital," he said with a steely resolve.

"We've got South Australia in a couple of weeks and then the Vics in Wangaratta on January 2, if we happen to lose one of those games then it makes this one in Coffs Harbour even more vital for us."

The SpeedBlitz Blues are currently leading the domestic tables in both forms of the game and the Sydney University player believes that a springboard for the team's success was created last year.

"I think we've developed a confidence from winning the Pura Cup last year that's really flowed on this season," he explained.

"I think also the fact that we've had a few Australian players in the side like Simon Katich and Michael Clarke who've come back and done very well for us as well as our regular performers like Phil Jacques who's averaging over a hundred in ING Cup."

Phelps agrees first-class cricket in Australia is as close to international cricket as you can get and that the line-up that is being promised for the January 14 clash is proof alone of this theory.

"You're looking at some future Australian stars in Dominic Thornley, Phil Jacques and Brad Haddin of course. Then you've got Stuart Clark, Nathan Bracken and Stuart MacGill," he boasted. "Then you've got the whole MacGill versus Warne match-up. It's massive for the crowd to come along and see that, it might not ever happen again, especially in a regional centre like this."

For information regarding ticket sales to the NSW v Victoria match, contact the Coffs Harbour Sports Unit on 6648 4950. Cost of entry is $15 for adults and $10 concession. Grandstand seats: $25.



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