The new-look Manuka Oval. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Cricket NSW officials will be in Canberra next week to inspect Manuka Oval to assess its viability to host the Sheffield Shield final.
The ACT Comets will play a NSW second XI in a three-day game starting on Monday, a fixture that could tip the scales in Manuka Oval’s favour for the decider from March 21-25.
Cricket NSW is hoping to make a decision next week whether Manuka Oval or Blacktown hosts the final if it finishes on top of the Sheffield Shield table.
NSW takes on Western Australia at Manuka Oval in its final match of the regular season from March 11-14.
The third-placed Blues (24 points) face top two sides South Australia (26 points) and WA (26 points) in the final two rounds.
Victories in both of those games will elevate NSW, currently two points behind the joint leaders, to the top of the table.
Cricket NSW chief executive Andrew Jones said advanced discussions would take place if NSW is likely to host the final.
‘‘Manuka is still very much in consideration on the shortlist, but we haven’t made that decision,’’ Jones said.
‘‘We’ll probably look at it again after next week’s match against South Australia, then we’ll have a better idea if we’re a chance of hosting.
‘‘It’s primarily a cricket decision more than anything else.’’
The SCG is unavailable because of the Major League Baseball series between the LA Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
NSW coach Trevor Bayliss will choose the venue based on what he believes will give his side the best chance of securing the Shield.
Manuka Oval is renowned for being a batting paradise, with a slew of big scores during Prime Minister’s XI and one-day international games at the venues in recent years.
Former Test batsman and WA legend Geoff Marsh toured Manuka Oval earlier this week when WA’s Futures League match with the Comets at Chisholm Oval finished within two days.
South Australia has been forced to move the final away from Adelaide Oval because of a clash with a Rolling Stones concert.
Fringe NSW paceman Gurinder Sandhu has been selected for the second XI match with the ACT from Monday.
Sandhu has missed the past two Shield games and will be eager to put himself back into contention.
Fellow fast bowlers Chris Tremain and Josh Lalor, who both played in the Big Bash League, are also in the NSW side.