MOREE nurse Andrew Maher, a NSW Country paceman playing for South Tamworth in this season’s Tamworth and District Cricket Association premiership, is unavailable for this weekend’s SCG Country Cup Finals in Shellharbour and Wollongong.
The former Australian Country paceman had been included in a 13-man squad for the quarter-final (and semi-final if successful this Saturday).
However, his South Tamworth and NSW Country teammate, Tom Groth, said the Moree-based nurse cannot make the two-day finals series.
Maher’s experience and pace would have been a major bonus to the Tamworth side’s attack featuring young guns Angus McNeil and Jack McVey.
They and left-arm dynamo Col Smyth will head the pace attack while Englishman Stuart Plant is the main spinner.
The left-arm tweaker has been taking wickets almost since he hopped off the plane from his Bollington club and has ample back-up with the likes of Michael Rixon, Simon Norvill, State Under 17 allrounder James Psarakis as well as medium pace from fellow Englishman Cal Rowe.
With a strong batting lineup that goes deep to skipper Tom Groth at number eight, it is one of the stronger Tamworth sides in recent years and comes up against a side, Cricket Albury Wodonga, that made the final last year, only to lose to a Mark Cameron-inspired Merewether.
“They’ll be hard,” said Tamworth selector Adam Jones of Tamworth’s first-up foes on Saturday.
“Any team in the final eight is going to be tough and have had to have been playing well.
“But we are confident.”
They face a side that has lost half a dozen players from last year’s side that made it through to the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The border association had two or three Englishmen playing last year but they have returned home.
They have an experienced pace attack headed by 44-year-old Steve Wood, Robbie Jackson and Mark Butters.
None is express although Wood was reckoned to have reached 150kmph in his younger days.
The Tamworth side heads to Wollongong on Friday, with Saturday’s match against Cricket Albury Wodonga the biggest test of the summer so far for a Tamworth side that has dominated with bat and ball.