Sydney Grade Cricket
Sydney Grade Cricket is a cricket competition played in Sydney, Australia. As of the 2016-17 season, Sydney Grade Cricket is now referred to as NSW Premier Cricket. The name change was part of a Cricket Australia initiative to standardise the naming of the elite men's cricket competition within each state's capital city. The competition began in 1893 when a number of clubs, which had been playing for many years on an ad hoc basis, voted to create a formal competition structure.
This competition has grown substantially since its formation and by the start of the 21st century the Sydney Grade Cricket Competition encompassed 20 clubs. In the late 1990s there was a structural reform of the competition with a number of club mergers (such as the merger of Randwick and the Petersham-Marrickville clubs), the renaming of clubs to reflect their wider representation (Waverley renamed as Eastern Suburbs) and the inclusion of clubs from the second-tier shires competition (such as Blacktown). Each of the 20 club fields a side in each of the five senior grades as well as a side in the Poidevin-Gray Shield and AW Green Shield junior competitions.
The Sydney grade cricket competition is played on Saturdays and begins on the last Saturday of September and continues until the grand final is played on the first weekend of April. Spectators are few and far between at matches, with less than 50 people on average. Almost all are family members, partners or club members. The exception to this is at T20 matches which can attract crowds into the hundreds and the occasional one in the early thousands.
In recent times some clubs have started broadcasting scorecards in real-time on the Cricket Australia website. Some clubs also have detailed video and photographs each weekend. Most but not all clubs actively update their website and have information across a variety of social media platforms.
Players for the NSW team are selected from the first-grade competition. While modern day cricketers have few breaks outside the international calendar, when they do NSW players often return to play in the first-grade competition. Sydney grade cricket also has a proud history of welcoming budding, current or former first-class and Test cricketers from around the world. Players are primarily sourced from England's county competition. In 2015-16, there were over 10 players in the competition plying their trade in the first-grade competition. In the late 1990s Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss among others played seasons in Sydney. Such is the strength of the competition that some players have been known to play multiple matches in second grade.
To address shortcomings in players making the transition from first-grade to State cricket, two seasons ago a different type of ball was introduced into the first-grade competition. This ball is the same used by state players but had not previously been used due to its cost (A$150 each). While the ball is still a four-piece ball, its seam is less pronounced and more difficult to swing. Bowlers, in particular fast bowlers, have had to work much harder at getting wickets. Since its introduction scores within the competition have increased. There have been higher team and individual scores (400+ scores by teams are not the rare occurrence they once were).
Clubs in the 2016-17 season of Sydney Grade Cricket are:
- Bankstown District Cricket Club – The Bulldogs play out of Bankstown Oval, one of the better first grade grounds, having hosted first class matches and women's internationals. The club has won six first-grade titles, the first in 1958-59 under the captaincy of Ron Briggs, and the most recent in 2015-16. Bankstown have a proud history and are among the strongest clubs. Notable Bankstown players have included all four Waugh brothers (Steve, Mark, Dean and Danny), Jeff Thomson, Len Pascoe, Corey Richards and Aaron Bird.
- Blacktown Grade Cricket Club – Nicknamed the Warriors, Blacktown participated in the Sydney Shires Competition before entering the Grade Competition in 2002-2003. Blacktown is yet to taste success across any grade but has shown steady improvement. Its catchment area in the North West of Sydney is among the fastest growing regions in Australia. Their two lower-grade home grounds at Whalan are among the largest in the competition, with it reported to be larger in size than the Sydney Cricket Ground. In recent years games have been interrupted by deadly snakes crossing into the field. Former players include Australian off spinner Gavin Robertson, NSW paceman Don Nash and West Indian bowler Corey Collymore.
- Campbelltown-Camden District Cricket Club – Nicknamed the Ghosts, the club was formed in 1985 and won its first title (the first grade limited overs crown) in 1986-87. Since then, it has won many lower grade titles. Like Blacktown, its local area is growing rapidly which has translated into a wealth of talent. Past players of note include Ian Davis, Brett & Shane Lee, Michael Bevan and Corey Richards.
- Eastern Suburbs Cricket Club – Founded as the Waverley Cricket Club in 1894, it changed its name in 1996 to reflect a broader regional basis. Nineteen Australian players have played for the red, white and blue of the Dolphins, including the Gregory brothers, Jack Fingleton, Greg Matthews. Current players include Brad Haddin Nathan Bracken and David Warner.
- Fairfield-Liverpool Grade Cricket Club - Nicknamed the Lions. Rosedale Oval, its first/second grade ground, is the largest first grade ground in Sydney. As such, the frequency of boundaries here is notably lower which means much more running for batsmen. The most notable current players are former Australian bowler Doug Bollinger and NSW players Grant Lambert and Ben Rohrer. Pat Richards rugby league footballer for Parramatta Eels, Wests Tigers and Wigan Warriors is a former player.
- Gordon District Cricket Club - The Stags were founded in 1905 and have won six first grade titles since then. They share their home ground of Chatswood Oval with Gordon rugby club. Chatswood Oval is notable for being surrounded by high-rise buildings and is next to major train line. Unfortunately for the fielding team, the ball is often dispatched in the vicinity of the train line and proves rather difficult to retrieve. Nineteen players have gone on to represent Australia, including Victor Trumper, Charlie Macartney, Bert Oldfield, Brian Taber, Ian Davis, Adam Gilchrist and Phil Emery.
- Hawkesbury Cricket Club – Nicknamed the Hawks. Inaugurated in 1985. Their home grounds at the Bensons Lane Complex at Richmond, which includes all 3 grade grounds, are among the best wickets in the Sydney Premier competition but are amongst the most oppressive grounds due to the heat (it is around 50 km inland), flies and smell (paddocks surround the ground). For teams based close to the CBD, the travel to Hawkesbury often takes close to two hours each way. The main oval, Owen Earle Oval, has recently been upgraded with a new picket fence. Notable players: Stephen O'Keefe (NSW & Aust), Peter Forrest (NSW, QLD & Aust), John Hastings (Vic & Aust), Scott Henry (NSW & Qld), Anthony Kershler (NSW), and Arjun Nair (NSW). Hawkesbury also produce regular members of NSW under-17 and 19 teams.
- Manly Warringah District Cricket Club - Founded in 1878, the Waratahs are a foundation club in the Sydney grade competition. The Waratahs have won the first grade title four times and in 2005–2006 won the club championship title. Recent players include NSW captain Stephen O'Keefe. Manly Oval is one of the most picturesque grounds in Sydney.
- Mosman Cricket Club - Nicknamed the Whales. Former Australian cricket captain Allan Border is probably the most famous former Mosman player and, in recognition of his contribution, the club renamed its home ground Allan Border Oval. Former players include Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, his older brother and former NSW captain Shane, former England captain Andrew Strauss.
- North Sydney Cricket Club - The Bears were formed in 1893 as a foundation club in the grade competition. The club is based at North Sydney Oval, a regular venue for first class cricket in NSW and one of the spectator's favourites given its postage stamp size and its heritage stands, capable of holding 15,000 spectators. The club's most famous players include Sir Donald Bradman, Bill O'Reilly, Keith Miller, Stan McCabe, Stuart MacGill, Trevor Chappell, Doug Walters, Sid Barnes, Charles Macartney, Phil Marks and Kerry O'Keeffe.
- Northern District Cricket Club - Nicknamed the Rangers, Northern District is home to former Australian and NSW captain Mark Taylor, Brad Haddin, Harry Conway, Nathan Lyon, former Sri Lankan International All - Rounder Upul Chandana and former home of Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist for a season.
- Parramatta District Cricket Club - Formerly Central Cumberland, the club was founded in 1843 and a foundation member of the grade competition. It claims to be the oldest living club in NSW & second oldest in Australia. Home of Richie Benaud, John Benaud, Doug Walters - winner of 3 First Grade Premierships. Bob Simpson is a coaching advisor.
- Penrith District Cricket Club - Like the local rugby league team, the Penrith Cricket Club are known as the Panthers. Penrith are currently under the guidance of John Benaud as their coach. England coach, Trevor Bayliss, played his Sydney Grade Cricket career at Penrith. Penrith won the 2008/2009 club championship. Patrick Cummins also plays for Penrith, being the first test player from Penrith for some decades. Penrith is the most inland of the 20 clubs and sits at the foot of the Blue Mountains.
- Randwick Petersham Cricket Club – Nicknamed the Randy Petes. Home of former Australian players Simon Katich, Nathan Hauritz and Usman Khawaja. England's Monty Panesar signed with the club for the 2011/12 season. Coogee Oval is one of the nicest grounds, sitting just over 100 metres from Coogee beach. It is a lively venue with many locals and backpackers passing the ground on their way to the beach.
- St George Cricket Club – Established in 1911, the club was the home of Sir Donald Bradman and Bill O'Reilly, Ray Lindwall, Arthur Morris, Brian Booth, Murray Bennett and Kerry O'Keeffe. Recent players include Moisés Henriques, Trent Copeland and Josh Hazlewood. The club became the first club to win the Sydney Grade Cricket Competition three times back to back. It achieved its 100th premiership in all grades in 2009–2010 season. The club also celebrates its centennial during the 2010–2011 season. Widely regarded as one of the most consistent clubs.
- Sutherland District Cricket Club – One of the newer clubs in the competition, the Sharks were formed in 1965. Past greats include former Australian Chairman of Selectors Andrew Hilditch, John Dyson, Steve Rixon, Glenn McGrath, Stuart MacGill and Stuart Clark. It is the home club of Steve Smith as well as young NSW batsman Nic Maddinson and former Australian player Phil Jaques.
- Sydney Cricket Club – A merger in 2007 between the UTS Balmain Cricket Club (a member of Grade Cricket since 1897 as Balmain) and the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust. The Tigers play out of Drummoyne Oval. Over the past decade the Tigers have occasionally played at the SCG. The most famous players from this club are Archie Jackson, Arthur Mailey, Greg Hayne (who has scored a record 12,000 runs for the club), Graham Thorpe, Russel Arnold, Nathan Bracken and Jason Krejza. Drummoyne Oval has been for many years hosted one-day matches for NSW (along with North Sydney Oval and Bankstown Oval).
- Sydney University Cricket Club - Nicknamed the Students. Founded in 1864, it was a foundation member of the grade competition. It has four first grade titles and twenty test players including Tom Garrett, Greg Matthews, Imran Khan, Stuart Clark, Stuart MacGill and Kevin Pietersen. Its three home grounds are set upon Sydney University's Camperdown campus just outside the CBD. It has been a strong club over the past decade and has been able to recruit many current first-class players. Its ability to offer educational opportunities at Sydney University to first grade players is its largest advantage.
- University of NSW Cricket Club Grade Cricket Club, nicknamed the Bumble Bees. Home to former Test players Geoff Lawson and Michael Slater. Entered the Grade Competition in 1973–74. Its first grade ground is located at UNSW's Kensington campus, while its lower grade grounds are located at playing fields a few suburbs away. Has the benefit for fielders to watch high-level gridiron matches on the adjoining field.
- Western Suburbs District Cricket Club – Nicknamed the Magpies. Home of Australia cricket captain Michael Clarke and Australian players Phillip Hughes and Mitchell Starc. Wests have had a number of notable former Australian players such as Bobby Simpson, Dirk Wellham, Alan Davidson, Greg Dyer, Greg Matthews, Gary Gilmour and Dave Gilbert. Wests home ground is Pratten Park in Ashfield.
Sydney's suburban sprawl over the past 120 years has seen the introduction of new outer-suburban clubs and the disappearance or mergers of some inner-city clubs. The most successful club no longer in the competition is Paddington which won nine first grade titles between 1894–95 and 1953-54. Other ex-clubs include Burwood, East Sydney, Glebe and Newtown. Petersham and Marrickville had each won a first grade title prior to merging to become Petersham-Marrickville. They won four titles as a merged outfit before merging again with Randwick, which had won seven titles, to become Randwick-Petersham.
The competition consists of 20 clubs who field one side in each of the five grades. In the 1st Grade competition, each side plays every other side over a total of 19 rounds. All other grades play only 15 rounds, thus missing out on playing 4 teams each season. The additional 4 rounds that are played by the 1st Grade sides are generally one day matches that take place on Sundays (won by Sydney University in 2010/2011).
The 2010-2011 season, for all grades, includes 10 two-day matches (generally played on two consecutive Saturdays), 4 one-day matches and 1 Twenty-20 match. The 1st Grade sides played an additional one-day match and 3 Twenty20 matches. The 1st Grade Draw can be found here  and the 2nd Grade draw, which is identical to the 3rd, 4th and 5th Grade draws, can be found here .
The final series generally consists of Qualifying Finals, Semi-Finals and a Final. These matches are played over two days, with the First Grade Final being played over three days. In the Qualifying Finals, the 1st placed team plays the 6th placed team, 2nd plays 5th and 3rd plays 4th. The three winning teams (or better placed team in the case of a draw) and the best placed losing team go through to the Semi-Finals.
Points are allocated to the teams according to the results of each match. These points go towards the Club Championship which is awarded at the end of the regular season.
All of the current NSW first-class cricket players are selected from their performances in Grade Cricket. This includes those players who also represent Australia although the demands of the international schedule means the Australian players rarely get to play at grade level these days.
First Grade Premiers
- 2015/2016 Bankstown
- 2014/2015 Manly-Warringah
- 2013/2014 Sydney University
- 2012/2013 St George
- 2011/2012 Sydney University
- 2010/2011 Sydney University
- 2009/2010 St George
- 2008/2009 St George
- 2007/2008 St George
- 2006/2007 Bankstown
- 2005/2006 Fairfield-Liverpool
- 2004/2005 Sydney University
- 2003/2004 Eastern Suburbs
- 2002/2003 Sydney University
- 2001/2002 Fairfield-Liverpool
The Poidevin-Gray Shield, or PG's as it is more commonly known, comprises teams who represent their grade sides in an Under 21 competition. All points received in this competition go towards the Club Championship.
A W Green Shield
The A W Green Shield, or Greenies as it is more commonly known, comprises teams who represent their grade sides in an Under 16 competition consisting of 7 preliminary rounds, qualifying finals, semi-finals and a Final.
The North Sydney Bears team of 2008/2009 is regarded as the best team to win the A. W. Green Shield, defeating Blacktown three times that season including in the final at North Sydney Oval.
Won by the club with the highest competition points in aggregate across all 5 grades plus points from the PG and Green Shield competitions. Points are only accrued across round matches and do not include finals.
For each club, each grades' points tally is multiplied by a factor for the purposes of calculating Club Championship points. A point in first grade is worth more than second grade and so on. Due to this system, the winner of the Club Championship usually comes from a club whose first-grade team is within the top 6. However, consistency across the top 3 grades in particular is important.
Club Championship Factors
First grade = 6 points per competition point, Second grade = 5, Third = 4,Fourth = 3, Fifth/PG/Green Shield = 2.
- Grade cricket for like competitions in other states
-  Archived May 24, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- https://web.archive.org/web/20130409021258/http://eastscricket.com.au/index.php/mens/about-us. Archived from the original on April 9, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2012. Missing or empty
- "Strauss a travelling batsman". Sydney Morning Herald. 14 November 2006.
-  Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Official website
- Sydney Grade Cricket on Facebook
- Cricket NSW Official Site
- Bankstown District Cricket Club Site
- Blacktown Grade Cricket Club Site
- Campbelltown-Camden District Cricket Club Site
- Eastern Suburbs Cricket Club Site
- Fairfield-Liverpool Grade Cricket Club Site
- Gordon District Cricket Club Site
- Hawkesbury Grade Cricket Club Site
- Manly Warringah District Cricket Club Site
- Mosman Cricket Club Site
- North Sydney District Cricket Club Site
- Northern District Cricket Club Site
- Parramatta District Cricket Club Inc. Site
- Penrith District Cricket Club Site
- Randwick Petersham Cricket Club Site
- St George District Cricket Club Inc. Site
- Sutherland District Cricket Club Site
- Sydney University Cricket Club Site
- University of NSW Cricket Club Site
- Sydney Cricket Club Site
- Western Suburbs District Cricket Club Site