Run feast expected
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
BOTH teams had their first look at the International Stadium pitch yesterday during their training runs and the good news for the expected capacity crowd is that they can look forward to seeing plenty of runs scored.
"The pitch looks pretty good, it's nice and hard with not much grass on it," said young NSW all-rounder Aaron O'Brien prior to Blues practice session.
"There should be a lot of runs in it and the outfield's great."
Today's top of the table clash is a marketing man's dream and O'Brien himself knows the importance of a victory today.
"Obviously we'd like to secure a home final," he said.
"It's always a good game against Victoria and with them being second at the moment a win will give us a bit bigger break on the table."
Victorian middle-order batsman David Hussey sees today's blockbuster as not only a chance to keep up with NSW in this competition but also to get a much needed psychological advantage for the week ahead as the Bushrangers take on the Blues in three matches over the next eight days.
"A win would create a bit of momentum I guess," Hussey said.
"If you take the four or five points here against NSW, it gives us a lot of confidence to go up to Lismore to play them in the Pura Cup and hopefully get six points up there as well but we'll definitely focus on this game first.
"This game is important so if we take four points or five points off them at this moment in the game you never know and it puts that bit of daylight between us and the next teams, South Australia and Queensland so the game's very important and hopefully we can come away with a win."
For NSW being the clear leaders of the ING Cup competition doesn't mean that the team is taking any notice of their favouritism with the bookies.
"Once you get to this level there's never ever just a walk in the park," O'Brien explained.
"Every game's always tough and we always take it as if it's going to be a hard game."
Being on top of the table though does mean that the team has an inner confidence that their game plan is the right one for today.
"It's the same old formula in this game, obviously it's been working for us at the moment so I cant see any reason to change it."
As the underdogs the Victorians know they're in for a battle but Hussey believes his team are a real chance of pulling off an upset and continuing the woeful record that NSW have at this ground.
"I know both teams are going well and will be playing good hard aggressive cricket and I think that's what the crowd want to see," he explained.
"I know our team will be coming out full of fight and ready to go."
Most of the fans will be disappointed by Shane Warne not being included in the Bushrangers squad but Hussey was quick to point out that Coffs Harbour will get a good look at who he thinks is the obvious heir apparent.
"I think we've got equally as talented bowler in Cameron White, he's a player of the future and I think he's going to play a lot of Test cricket and one-day cricket for Australia," he said about Victoria's captain.
"We'd love to have Shane in the team, he's a fantastic fella and probably the best bowler in the world at the moment but unfortunately he's a bit injured at the moment and resting but we'll get him back later in the year."