Narrabri District Cricket Association has entered two teams into the 2020-21 MA Connolly Cup competition which will be captained by Civeo Cricket Club duo Nick Smart and Chris Sargent.

The MA Connolly Cup is the Northern Inland Cricket Council’s premier competition this season after the War Veterans Cup was put on ice for a year.

Narrabri dominated the War Vets Cup in recent years, qualifying for the past three grand finals while winning two of those on home soil after finishing first on the regular season ladder on both occasions.

Sargent will captain Narrabri Gold while Smart will skipper Narrabri Blue during the 2020-21 MA Connolly Cup competition which is scheduled to begin on Sunday, November 1.

Smart has been Narrabri’s main man for the bat in recent years at a representative level and was the NDCA’s first grade cricketer of the year last season. He also won the batting aggregate and average awards for first grade after scoring 340 runs at 45 in the 2019-20 campaign.

Sargent has been one of the NDCA’s key players at representative level in recent years and is widely acknowledged as one of the ultimate teammates. In the 2017-18 season he was awarded the NDCA first grade best and fairest award and just last season he was a member of the Narrabri District Cricket Association Grey Slugs Veterans Cricket NSW Over-50s State Championships division three winning side.

The two skippers know each other all too well, having won two War Vets Cups together as well as the inaugural Coates Hire T20 Super Slog title earlier this year.

The NDCA’s 2017-18 and 2019-20 War Vets Cup premiership players will be spread across both MA Connolly Cup teams, while both outfits will include players from the NDCA’s previous MA Connolly Cup teams.

Thirty-five players made themselves available for selection this season, including six youngsters still eligible to play junior rep cricket who will be forced to play junior matches when any clashes arise.

Of those 35 players, 13 will be chosen into Narrabri Blue and another 13 will chosen into Narrabri Gold, including the two captains.

The remaining players can be called into either team if needed, but once an unnamed player takes the field for either side they cannot play for the other later on in the season.

Both Narrabri teams have been placed in a six-team conference named the Namoi Conference with Peel Valley, Gunnedah, Quirindi and Tamworth. The Gwydir Conference is made up of Armidale, Walcha, Moree, Gwydir and Inverell.

After the five rounds, which are scheduled to be played on November 1, November 15, November 29, December 20 and January 31 respectively, the top two teams from each conference will advance to the February 14 semi-finals.

The top-ranked Namoi Conference team will host the second-placed Gwydir Conference team in one semi-final, and in the other the top-ranked Gwydir Conference team will host the second-placed Namoi Conference side.

The competition’s grand final is scheduled to be contested on Sunday, February 21.

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