You know it’s summer in Penrith when the days are getting longer, the mosquitoes are nipping at your legs, and there’s cricket being played on Howell Oval.
While footy is winding down, the cricket season is about to begin and it all kicks off this Saturday afternoon when Penrith take on Eastern Suburbs in a T20 match at Raby Oval, near Campbelltown.
Unlike in previous years, the T20 competition will kick off the 2023/24 NSW Premier Cricket season, with the prestigious Belvidere Cup not due to get underway until early October.
Speaking with the Weekender, third-year Penrith Cricket Club coach Andrew Lamb said his first grade side will get the shorter form of the game out of the way first.
“The T20 competition, including Finals, will be wrapped up by mid-November and then it’s just the One-Day and Two-Day games after that,” he said.
“Our first Belvidere Cup game will be held on October 7 against Hawkesbury.”
Penrith will be looking to make the Finals of the Belvidere Cup for the first time under coach Lamb’s tenure.
Last season, the Cats got awfully close to qualifying for the post-season but missed out by one premiership point.
Lamb said despite falling agonisingly short, he was thrilled with the year as a whole.
“If I look overall, we made the Finals in the T20 and One Day competitions and missed out on the Belvidere Cup Finals by a point,” he said.
“It was a fantastic season and I can’t really fault the boys for the efforts they put in last year.
“I think we’ll be in a similar position this year where we will challenge the same way.”
While Lamb is confident his side will be in the mix for a spot in the Finals again this season, it’s going to be a hell of a battle especially considering he’s losing some key players from last year’s roster.
“We lost our young fast bowler Hunar Verma to Sydney University and Henry Railz has gone to Campbelltown,” Lamb said.
“Cameron Weir and Jordan Browne have gone into retirement and they will now concentrate on their coaching careers.”
In some good news for Lamb, Ryan Gibson will return as skipper for Penrith, with the club also attracting bowler Ben Roughan from Hawkesbury.
“Ben will strengthen us up. He’s a left-arm quick who shapes the ball well. He’s really shown some promise,” Lamb said.
“Owen Cole was injured last year, so he’s back in the fold again. We still have a strong batting attack, and our bowling attack is like for like if you think about it with Ben coming in.”
Following Saturday’s T20 match against Eastern Suburbs, the Penrith Cricket Club will launch their 2023/24 Men’s and Women’s seasons at Howell Oval from 6pm.
“We’ll be capping the Metro’s for winning the competition last year, so that will be a good way to celebrate the start of the season,” Lamb said.
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.