Thunder to strike Penrith

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Penrith Mayor John Thain is thrilled that the Sydney Thunder will return to Penrith. Photo: Kate Reid

One of the biggest events on the local sporting calendar is returning this December when the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) hits Howell Oval.

For the third straight year, the Sydney Thunder will call Penrith home for a one-off match on December 16 when they face the Melbourne Stars.

The Weekender revealed back in August that Penrith Council and Sydney Thunder bosses were in serious talks to bring another WBBL game to the iconic Howell Oval.

Yesterday that became a reality when the Thunder and Council confirmed the mid-December match, which includes free admission.

“Council is a strong supporter of women’s sport and in particular cricket, with our collaboration with Sydney Thunder now in its third year,” Penrith Mayor, John Thain said.

“This event recognises the achievements of female players and has become an annual celebration of women’s sport in Penrith.”

Sydney Thunder General Manager Lee Gormon said Penrith is an important part of the Thunder region and is pleased to be able to take elite cricket here this summer.

“Penrith Council has shown great support for women’s cricket and the Thunder club, and I’m very pleased this will continue,” he said.

“The region boasts large numbers of participants in our sport and has developed many outstanding cricketers. This makes Penrith an integral part of our Thunder Nation.

“Families and fans attending the match on December 16 will have a great day out while watching the best cricketers in the world.”

The Thunder played the very first WBBL game at Howell Oval in 2015 and faced the Adelaide Strikers there last season. This season will see local batter Naomi Stalenberg return to the club after signing a one-year contract extension while fellow Penrith cricketer Lisa Griffiths has also signed on following her return to cricket last year.

“I find Howell Oval a really nice ground to play at,” Stalenberg said.

“Taking it back to where we beat the Sixers in the first WBBL season makes it a pretty special place as that’s where it all started, it’s great that we can continue playing there.”

Teammate and close friend Lisa Griffiths said she can’t wait to make her WBBL debut.

“I’ve always kept an eye on the Big Bash,” she said.

“Naomi is one of my best friends, we’ve known each other for a long time and I’m looking forward to getting back on the park with her. I’m also looking forward to playing with Alex Blackwell, she’s a cricketer I really look up to on and off the field.”

In addition to the WBBL game, Howell Oval will also host a Super Clinic on January 18 featuring players from both the WBBL and BBL squads.

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