IT may well have been the most important innings by a Wests batsman since the club’s last Newcastle District Cricket Association first-grade premiership (as Lambton-New Lambton), more than 50 years ago.
But willit be last innings Rosellas skipper James King plays before hanging up the boots?
CAPTAIN’S KNOCK: Wests skipper James King made 93 not out on day one of the first-grade final against Merewether.
King, the 25-year-old left-hander, made an unbeaten 93 on day one of the final against Merewether at No.1 Sportsground last Sunday.
His 258-ball, 307-minute knock steered the Rosellas away from potential disaster at 4-27 to a defendable total of 210.Merewether, who survived two overs before stumps, will resume at 0-2 on Friday morning.
King’s immediate priority will be juggling his bowlers and fielders as Wests chase their first two-day premiership since 1965-66, and a second piece of silverware this season, to sit alongside the Tom Locker (50-over) Cup.
But the captain admitted there was no guarantee that he will be playing next season, a prospect he has tried to keep firmly at the back of his mind.
“Undecided,” King said.
“I love playing cricket, but it’s a massive commitment. It’s very time-consuming, obviously, so it’s something I’ll be weighing up in the off-season, that’s for sure.
“I’m only 25, so if I don’t play, it wouldn’t be a retirement as such, it would be more about having a few games off, if anything.”
The skipper feltWests, the minor premiers, were well placed at the halfway point in the decider but would never underestimate Merewether, whose line-up includes multiple premiership winners Simon Moore, Troy Goodwin and Tim O’Neill.
“We are confident,” Kingsaid. “We think we’ve got a good enough bowling attack to defend 210, but we’re also aware that they’re a very good side.They’ve got some really good batsmen. The key will be taking early wickets and then staying patient for the rest of the day.”
WESTS SKIPPER JAMES KING
King said whatever nerves his teammates were feeling about being so close to a breakthrough title were providingmotivation, rather than creating pressure.
“Nothing has really changed for us,” he said. “We’ve trained the same way this week we have all year, and we’ve got to where we are by playing the way we play. We’ve just got to stick to that.”
The Rosellas may need to take only nine wickets to secure a historic victory.
Merewether tailender Sam Palmer appears unlikely to bat after shattering his left thumb attempting to take a catch last week, an injury that necessitated surgery.
“Every wicket counts,” King said. “But if they’re going to win it, it’s going to be one of their top order who bats through, I’d think.”
Play starts at 10.30am.