NSW Cricket chief executive officer Dave Gilbert.
NSW Cricket chief executive officer Dave Gilbert.

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SHANE WARNE and Stuart MacGill are almost certain to play for their respective States when Victoria take on NSW in the Pura Cup cricket match scheduled for Oakes Oval, Lismore, from January 16.

That's the word from the chief executive officer of NSW Cricket, Dave Gilbert, who was in Lismore yesterday for a whistle-stop inspection of Oakes Oval.

"I'd say it's a massive chance (they'll both play)," Gilbert told The Northern Star.

"The Sydney Test is over by January 6 and then the VB One-Day series starts.

"Warne doesn't play in the one-dayers anymore and MacGill hasn't played for three or four years.

"Unless they're injured I'd say both will be available for their States."

The likelihood of Warne, the leading Test wicket-taker, playing for the Bushrangers against MacGill, his leg-spinning adversary, would guarantee a large crowd for the interstate match.

But it's not only the inclusion of Warne and MacGill that has the locals talking.

Former Clunes cricketer and Southern Districts batsman Matthew Phelps, who has been in a rich vein of form recently, is in line for a start at his former home ground.

"He will be there," Gilbert said.

"He got a hundred the other day and he's been one of our best-performed batsmen over the past couple of seasons.

"I know Phelpsy is incredibly excited about playing.

"I think he's worked it out that he'll be the first State player to play at his home ground in a regional centre."

According to Gilbert, players are looking forward to the opportunity of playing in the country.

"They love it," he said.

"They get to play in front of great crowds at regional areas and the atmosphere is different...almost like a carnival atmosphere."

Gilbert said NSW Cricket would be disappointed if there wasn't a crowd of 10,000 in attendance during the four-day game.

"We're looking for 2500 per day," he said.

"After hearing that the City-Country rugby league game got 8000 we're pretty hopeful of getting that (2500 per day) comfortably.

"The match is in peak holiday time so, weather permitting, we'd be disappointed if we didn't get 10,000."

The Cricket NSW boss also said Lismore, who last hosted a Pura Cup match (then called the Sheffield Shield) in 1979, is in line for future fixtures.

"Oakes Oval puts Lismore in a privileged position," Gilbert said.

"There aren't many venues outside Sydney that could host matches of this sort.

"Of course Newcastle can, but they've had a few games recently and they're not going to have a monopoly.

"Put it this way, Lismore won't be waiting 27 years for another game."

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