RUNS: Steve Mace clips a shot away for his Charlestown team against Cardiff-Boolaroo. Picture: Peter StoopSINCE he started playing junior cricket more than three decades ago, Steve Mace has hated waking up on Saturdays to the sound of falling rain.
Nanjing Night Net

But if today’s first-grade clash with Toronto at No.1 Sportsground is washed out, it will be understandable if the veteran Charlestown skipper’s disappointment is not quite as intense.

With two rounds left in the Newcastle District Cricket Association regular season, Mace’s Magpies are fourth on the points table – 10 points clear of their next nearest rivals, Newcastle City.

It is a commanding yet not totally unassailable lead.

‘‘We’re not there yet,’’ Mace said yesterday.

‘‘I think if we lost both games and City had an outright and picked up some bonus points, they could overtake us.’’

For that unlikely sequence of events to unfold, City would need to take maximum points against struggling Stockton at Learmonth Park.

That can only happen if the ground is fit for play today, and given the deluge of the past 24 hours it would be a surprise if any of the six scheduled games proceed.

Washed-out fixtures will revert to one-dayers next week, thereby torpedoing any plans for outright results.

Mace said Charlestown’s players had put the covers on at No.1 on Thursday afternoon, before the heavens opened, but he still doubted any play would be possible.

‘‘I’d be surprised if there were any games this weekend,’’ he said.

If that confirms Charlestown are certain semi-finalists in what shapes as his last season, Mace will not knock it back.

But in typical fashion he said: ‘‘You’d always rather be playing.’’

A rain deferral would benefit Charlestown on another front as it would allow wicket-keeper Dane Macourt to rest a suspected broken thumb he suffered fielding last week.

‘‘They think it’s fractured,’’ Mace said. ‘‘But he had a bit of a bat and a catch at training [on Thursday] and seems to think he’ll be all right.

‘‘It’s obviously still a bit ginger, so an extra week will be good for him.’’

Macourt is back behind the stumps after the departure of English import Callum Jackson, who will be replaced in the top order by the return of Daniel Arms from representative duties.

Toronto have also farewelled their three English recruits, Tom Bailey, Jake Ball and Sam Wood, allowing Ashley Weekes, Josh Newell and Matt Peterson to return.

By last night, there were two first-grade matches called off – between Hamilton-Wickham and Cardiff-Boolaroo at Passmore Oval, and Wests against Waratah-Mayfield at Harker Oval.

In games scheduled but not expected to start today, Belmont host leaders Merewether at Cahill Oval, and University are at home to Wallsend.