Another classic western Sydney derby will take place this weekend when the Penrith Cricket Club and Hawkesbury Cricket Club face-off for premiership glory.
This Sunday Howell Oval is set to erupt with Hawkesbury and Penrith doing battle in the Sydney Premier Cricket Limited Overs Grand Final.
Both sides’ path to the all-important decider was rather memorable, in particular for Penrith who ended Sutherland’s premiership hopes with a heart-stopping one wicket victory on the second last ball of their recent semi final clash.
Speaking with the Weekender, Penrith head coach Steve Small said it was a nerve-racking way to reach a Grand Final.
“Yeah it wasn’t much good for old coaches like me,” he laughed.
“In saying that, it was a terrific performance by the whole team and they all played their part on the day.”
Penrith looked dead and buried at 4/43 but an important partnership between NSW and Big Bash cricketer Ryan Gibson (80) and Tim Cummins (20) steadied the ship.
Fellow state cricketer and Big Bash player Josh Lalor hit the winning runs off the second last ball to claim the unlikely win.
“The one thing about this cricket team is that they are never dead, they are always a chance,” Small said.
“Hopefully they can get the job done and have something to cheer about for the first time in a long time for first grade.”
It’s certainly been a long time between drinks for Penrith’s first grade side, who last won a Limited Overs title way back in the 2001/02 season.
Coach Small said it would mean a lot to the players and the club to be premiers again.
“I’d be so happy for the players – I was fortunate enough to be at Penrith in 1978/79 when we won the first grade premiership under John Benaud,” he said.
“It’ll also be great for a player like Matthew Halse, who has been a stalwart for the club and an outstanding leader. It would be fitting for him to win some silverware before he retires.”
Penrith will be hoping they will be at full strength for this Sunday’s clash, with Small banking on the availability of his ‘big three’ in Pat Cummins, Josh Lalor and Ryan Gibson.
“We are hoping they will all be available,” Small said.
“Gibson and Lalor are playing Futures League in Perth while Cummins has one more T20 match for Australia – it all depends on their workload.”
A new Limited Overs champion will be crowned this Sunday when Penrith take on Hawkesbury at Howell Oval from 10am.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.