MEREWETHER captain Simon Moore noticed a major improvement after Zac McGuigan returned from a tour of England with the NSW Combined High School in the winter.
VALUABLE: Newcastle will lean on Pat Darwen’s experience against Randwick-Petersham on Sunday.
The batting all-rounder followed that up with an unbeaten 114 against Belmont in second grade a fortnight ago.
And with Pat Darwen unavailable for the one-day clash against Toronto on Saturday, Moore believedthe time was right to hand the teenager a first-grade debut.
“He is a good kid and has always shown a lot of promise,” Moore said. “He benefited from going away with the NSW CHS side during the winter. He got 100 in second grade, is a very good fielder and is pretty useful with the ball too. He opens in seconds but will bat five or six tomorrow.”
McGuigan, whose father Lyle played first grade at Southern Lakes and is captain of Merewether’s A-Grade City and Suburban side, said he was ‘excited but a bit nervous’ ahead of his debut.
NSW CHS played nine games, winning five, in a 24-day tour in July.
“I learned a lot on the tour and it has helped my game,” McGuigan said
At stake on Saturday is a place in the Tom Locker final. The Lions top Pool A on 25 points and only need to beat the winless Kookaburras to progress to the decider on November 12.
“The way the table is, if we win, we should be through,” Moore said. “The points system, I don’t think is very fair, but that is a topic for a different day. We were lucky enough to get on last week and earn a couple of bonus points which helped us a lot.”
However, Moore is taking nothing for granted.
“In these 40-over games, it is like anup-sized meal of T-20,” Moore said. “It is a bit hit and miss. If you play poorly you will get beaten.”
In other Pool A matches, Belmont host Wallsend and Waratah are at home to Newcastle City.
Only a point separates Pool B leaders University (22 points) from Charlestown (21).
The Students, who are the defending champions, meet Wests (20) at Uni No.1. Charlestown welcome strugglers Stockton to Kahibah Oval. Hamwicks hosts Cardiff-Boolaroo in the other game.
Darwen may be unavailable for Merewether, but the former NSW Country off-spinning all-rounder is a welcome boost for Newcastle’s opening round of the NSW Premier T20 competition against Randwick-Petersham at Coogee Oval.
“Pat has played a lot of Sydney first grade and is comfortable in that environment with both bat and ball,” Newcastle coach Shane Burley said.
In another bonus, former NSW spearhead Burt Cockley will also play against a Randwick outfit including Hunter trio Nathan Price, Jason Sangha and Riley Ayre.