AFTER scoring twin half centuries in Wollongong, Matthew Gilkes says he hopes he has done enough to sow up his spot for NSW ahead of the Sheffield Shield final.
The Ulladulla batsman was among the standouts during NSW's draw with the Bulls at North Dalton Park.
The game proved to be a dress rehearsal for this season's Shield decider, to be held next week in Queensland. Tuesday's result was enough for both sides to advance after Western Australia fell to Tasmania in the last round.
NSW resumed their innings at 2-48 on Tuesday with Gilkes unbeaten on 24.
He pressed on to score a patient 66 before being dismissed by Brendan Doggett, which complemented his half century in the first innings.
Gilkes' knock was the highlight for NSW on a day dominated by rain. Play was called off in the early afternoon with the hosts on 5-145.
In his first Shield match of the season, Gilkes told Australian Community Media that it was great to spend time at the crease.
"It was nice to be able to contribute to the team," Gilkes said.
"There were a few testing spells there, but it was a pretty flat wicket so we knew that if we made some good decisions for long periods, we would all do well.
"I think I've definitely put my name out there for selection for it [the Shield final].
"So fingers crossed I can do as much as I can at training to be able to secure my spot."
This week marked only the second time that Gilkes has played at North Dalton Park, having previously represented a NSW second XI side at the Wollongong venue.
And while disappointed with the final result, the 21-year-old was full of praise for the local support shown during the game.
"It's a beautiful ground, it's a lovely place to play cricket," the Ulladulla High School alumnus said.
"And it's probably the best crowd that I've seen at a Shield game since I've been around it too.
"We got some really good support there which was great.
"It was unfortunate for some rain to come at the end.
"It would have been nice to get the win and take a bit of confidence into the final.
"And that would have secured us a home final too.
"But it likes we'll have to go up to Queensland for the final.
"It would be an awesome experience to be able to play in a Shield final."
Bulls spinner Mitchell Swepson was the standout bowler on Tuesday with 4-60, taking his tally to six wickets for the game.
It capped a great Sheffield Shield season for the leggie, who dismissed 29 batsmen in four matches.
Swepson, who was recently selected in Australia's Test squad, said North Dalton Park was a great venue because it offered something for everybody this match.
"I think variety is great. You don't want to rock up to different parts of Australia and get the same thing," Swepson said.
"Coming out here to Wollongong - a different ground, different conditions - I think is great for Shield cricket.
"I think it's something that maybe we can do a little bit more of, getting out to some grounds and playing in different conditions.
"There were some foot marks for me to bowl into on Tuesday, and that's something I wouldn't get at the Gabba or the WACA.
"I think it's great when you have variety.
"You get spinners involved, you get guys playing against spin, and having to come up with plans against it.
"I think it's good for the game as a whole, not just us spinners. I think it's good for everyone."
NSW finished day four at 5-145 after making 381 in the first innings, compared to Queensland's 433.