NSW will welcome back Test stars Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon for the match which will decide whether they appear in the Sheffield Shield final.
NSW have received a major boost in their bid to seal a berth in the Sheffield Shield final, with Australian Test stars Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon returning to face Western Australia in a must-win clash in Canberra starting on Tuesday.
WA, South Australia and NSW are all locked on 26 points heading into a tense final round of matches, the Warriors possessing the superior differential.
But with the Blues and WA going head-to-head, destiny is in their hands, and victory will secure a place in the final regardless of what happens with the Redbacks in their match-up against Tasmania in Hobart.
A first innings win or outright victory could see the Blues host the final dependent on other results.
Queensland, on 22 points, are an outside chance to force their way into the final, but need a big win against last-placed Victoria at the MCG.
NSW will take a dynamic spin combination to Manuka Oval, with Test offspinner Lyon rejoining the squad from South Africa to partner the competition’s top wicket-taker Stephen O’Keefe (38 wickets at 20.05).
Smith scored his fourth Test century in South Africa and will significantly bolster the Blues’ batting line-up – who struggled against the West Australian attack in a crippling defeat at the WACA two weeks ago.
If NSW manage to make the final, Test skipper Michael Clarke has already indicated he will put niggling injuries aside and help the Blues win their first Shield title since 2007-08.
Smith and Lyon returned from their Test triumph in South Africa on Friday, and the Blues will be looking for a big impact from the pair before they take a well-deserved break.
NSW have named a 12-man squad to face WA, with bowling allrounder Sean Abbott the man most likely to miss out.
O’Keefe’s eleven wicket haul in Adelaide makes him the highest wicket-taker in Shield cricket this year, while Ryan Carters sits joint third on the list of run-scorers with 760 runs for the season.
NSW Blues: Steve Smith (capt), Doug Bollinger, Sean Abbott, Ryan Carters, Trent Copeland, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Peter Nevill, Steve O’Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Ben Rohrer