Penrith Council has teamed up with the Sydney Thunder T20 teams to bring the opening round of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) and the only pre-season hit out for the men’s team ahead of their Big Bash League (BBL) season, to Penrith.
Howell Oval will host the first WBBL match on the east coast when the Sydney Thunder battle crosstown rivals, the Sydney Sixers on Sunday, December 6 from 2.30pm.
The historic match will be a celebration of women’s sport in Penrith.
Penrith Mayor, Karen McKeown, said Penrith has produced many elite female athletes over the years.
“This game recognises the achievements of local women in sport, not just in cricket but across many sports,” she said.
“The Sydney Thunder WBBL team features talented local cricketers Naomi Stalenberg and Mikayla Hinkley who are grade players for the Penrith Cricket Club.”
At just 17, Hinkley said she was excited to be playing such an important match.
“Being so young and this being one of my first ever professional games, is a pretty exciting feeling – it will be a history making game for women’s cricket,” she told the Weekender.
“We’ve got some amazing cricketers dividing into different states, so it’s really going to be a great competition.”
However, it won’t be just the women entertaining the crowd next month with the Sydney Thunder men’s team on show a week later when they bring their big hitters and international stars to Howell Oval for a warm up match.
The BBL practice match, to be held on Saturday, December 12 from 4pm, will be the first time cricket fans can see the Thunder’s international stars in action as they prepare for their fifth BBL season.
South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis and West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell will be on show in the practice game that will also feature Aussie cricket stars Mike Hussey, Shane Watson, Gurinder Sandhu, and Penrith’s own Pat Cummins.
22-year-old Cummins, who’s currently sidelined with yet another back injury, is a member of the Thunder squad for the first time, having previously played with the Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers.
“The Thunder is the closest team to where I’ve grown up and, to be part of such a strong organisation who represents the west, is pretty exciting,” he said.
While Cummins’ back injury will keep him from playing with the Thunder this summer, the Aussie paceman still plans to have another stint with the Penrith Cricket Club as a batsman after Christmas.
Nathan Taylor is the Western Weekender’s award-winning sports journalist. Nathan is also the Weekender’s Deputy Editor.