After falling just short of Grand Final glory last season, Penrith Cricket Club’s first grade women’s team will be looking to go one better this weekend.
The side, which finished the regular season of the NSW Premier Cricket competition in second position, will do battle against Northern District in Sunday’s decider at Cricket Central Oval in Silverwater.
Penrith qualified for the big game after defeating crosstown rivals Parramatta in last weekend’s One Day Semi Final at Howell Oval.
With rain wreaking havoc last Sunday afternoon, Penrith won the contest via the Duckworth–Lewis–Stern (DLS) method. Parramatta posted 9/216 after 50 overs, with skipper Sam Arnold taking four wickets for the Lady Cats.
When Penrith hit the crease, they notched up 2/126 after 21.4 overs before the weather saw the game end prematurely. Thunder Women’s Big Bash League star Phoebe Litchfield belted 77 not out.
Speaking with the Weekender, first-year Penrith coach Craig Noble said the team was “on a high” after Sunday’s win.
“Getting the win against Parramatta, especially with all the rain delays that day, was special,” he said.
“It’s always hard under the DLS because you have a different target to reach, but the girls did well in the end.”
Despite Penrith finishing above Northern District on the ladder, this Sunday’s Grand Final is expected to go down to the wire.
Penrith will, however, go into the Grand Final with plenty of big game experience, having played in last year’s deciding match against Sydney. Noble is hoping his side will get to celebrate on this occasion.
“Like the old saying goes, ‘you have to lose one to win one’, hopefully that’s how it plays out for us,” he said.
“Hopefully the girls are confident in their own abilities. Northern District is a good side, so we have a lot of respect for them.
“It’s not something we are taking lightly, and cricket is one of those great levellers, depending what happens on the day. It’s going to be a really tight contest and we’ll have to be at our best to get the win.”
Giving Penrith the slight advantage in Sunday’s match is having rising Australian cricket star Phoebe Litchfield on their roster. In the five games she played for Penrith at the back-end of the season, she averaged 66.2 runs per match.
“We didn’t have Phoebe at the start of the year, it’s only been towards the end, but she’s certainly made a difference,” Noble said.
“From a team perspective, the girls did the job earlier in the year and Phoebe has been the cream on top for us.
“To have her come in and she is such a classy and dominant player, it adds strength to the team, and it gives the girls a lot of confidence as well.”
The Grand Final gets underway at 10am on Sunday.
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 a decade.