SCG ruled out of running for Shield final

Rob Forsaith
NSW will be unable to play the Sheffield Shield final at the SCG if they make the season decider

NSW return to the SCG on Friday for the final time this Sheffield Shield season, with the table toppers forced to look at Wollongong and other alternatives should they host the final.

The Blues dominated the pre-BBL section of the Shield, winning five games and drawing another, and are on track to host the final that begins on March 27.

It's unclear where the season decider will be played but it won't be at Sydney's iconic home of cricket.

It's believed that Wollongong's North Dalton Park, which has hosted Shield games in recent years, is among the options being explored by Cricket NSW should they host the final.

NSW players and officials would obviously prefer to stage the highlight of the domestic calendar at the SCG, but the reality is that will never happen again unless the Shield season finishes significantly earlier in the year.

The SCG is hosting women's Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals on March 5 then men's trans-Tasman ODIs on March 13 and 15, but it will become the domain of AFL club Sydney Swans beyond that point.

The ground successfully hosted last Saturday's BBL final despite a deluge of biblical proportions in the preceding 36 hours, the forecast of which had prompted Cricket Australia to briefly consider a broadcaster-led push to shift venues.

It reflected the tireless work of SCG staff, but also why so many cricket insiders want important domestic fixtures at Test venues.

NSW host last-placed Victoria, the only state yet to win a game in 2019-20, in the SCG four-day clash starting Friday.

Victoria confirmed on Tuesday that Sam Harper and Will Pucovski will be unavailable because of recent concussions, while spearhead James Pattinson has been rested ahead of next week's Australia A game.

NSW should be able to pick Test spinner Nathan Lyon throughout the rest of the season, unless he is called up for the ODI series in March.

Kurtis Patterson, who celebrated his maiden Test ton a year ago, will be one Blue to watch in coming weeks.

Patterson's opening half of the season was derailed by a quad injury but he returned during the BBL then top-scored with 81 during a recent NSW second XI fixture in Hobart.