Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Young Gun Blake Nikitaras signs with Sydney Thunder

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Sydney Thunder coach Trevor Bayliss described the KFC Big Bash League club’s latest signing – Blake Nikitaras from Wollongong – as a player with the attributes that are required to become a “devastating” batter.

Bayliss said the exciting 22-year-old left-hander, who has played five First Class matches for NSW, had been on his radar for a few seasons.

“From a batting point of view Blake looks like a big, strong kid who hits the ball hard,” said Bayliss. “He’s a natural stroke player, but he’ll get only stronger, and he’ll only get better.

“I believe in a few years’ time – and with more strength – he could be devastating.

“While that’s a little way off, Blake is a young guy who doesn’t mind playing his shots – and I like that he strikes the ball nicely.”

Nikitaras, whose father Steve played for the NSW, Western Australia, and Greek national cricket teams, said he had a heartfelt reason to be “happy” about earning a contract with Sydney Thunder.

“I’m absolutely rapt to be with the Thunder and that joining Thunder makes my father and mother happy and proud,” said Nikitaras, who is a product of Wollongong’s junior club Oak Flats, which also produced fast bowling great Brett Lee and Thunder’s star all-rounder, Nathan McAndrew.

“I rate this alongside being selected to play for NSW last year. Sydney Thunder is an elite team, and I am proud to be here. It means the world to me to be a part of a great club, and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to learn from the great players in the squad.”

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Nikitaras, who openly admits that he was inspired by his father’s achievements, said he owed a huge dollop of gratitude to his dad for putting him on the ‘right’ path at an early age.

“Dad told me from an early age to bat and not be a bowler,” said Nikitaras with a laugh. “Dad said that I didn’t want to bowl because I’d probably hurt my back as fast bowlers get too many injuries.

“So, ever since I was aged six, we focused on my batting and he bowled at me in the backyard with a bit of zip, but these days his nip and zip is only on the ‘wanger’ [a piece of training equipment] he uses to pitch balls at me.”

Nikitaras, who plays for St George in Premier Cricket, said he had outlined some first season goals with Thunder.

“With players such as Alex Hales, Chris Green, Jason Sangha, Rilee Rossouw, and, of course, Dave Warner playing at Sydney Thunder I want to see how they prepare and learn as much as I can from them,” he said.

“I want to see what they do in the lead up to the games; understand how they think during the game and how I can apply it to my game.

“I’ll also be wanting to do all I can to help everyone out, and, if my opportunity comes, I’ll be ready.”

Sydney Thunder’s Head of Thunder Andrew Gilchrist said the club was excited to sign a young player who has already proven himself in the competitive arena of senior interstate cricket.

“Blake has a wonderful opportunity at Sydney Thunder,” said Gilchrist. “He will be guided by one of the best coaches in the game – Trevor Bayliss – and he will also benefit from the dedicated support of Trevor’s assistants Sean Bradstreet, Chandika Hathrusinghe, and Daniel Smith – three of the best in the business.

“And I know he’ll be motivated by playing alongside some of the BBL’s best – including Jason Sangha, Dave Warner, Chris Green, and Alex Hales.

“We want him to be an important part of Thunder’s future, and from what I’ve seen he’s determined to grow and to be a positive influence here.”
 

Sydney Thunder BBL|12 Squad 

Head Coach: Trevor Bayliss
Contracted Players: Ben Cutting, Ollie Davies, Brendan Doggett, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Matthew Gilkes, Chris Green, Alex Hales, Baxter Holt, Nathan McAndrew, Blake Nikitaras, Alex Ross, Rilee Rossouw, Daniel Sams, Gurinder Sandhu, Jason Sangha, Tanveer Sangha, David Warner, Sam Whiteman.

Sydney Thunder BBL|12 Home Fixtures
Tue 13 Dec | Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Stars | Manuka Oval | 7:15pm
Fri 16 Dec | Sydney Thunder v Adelaide Strikers | Sydney Showground Stadium | 8:15pm
Tue 27 Dec | Sydney Thunder v Brisbane Heat | Sydney Showground Stadium | 7:15pm
Sat 31 Dec | Sydney Thunder v Hobart Hurricanes | Lavington Sports Ground | 3:30pm
Sun 8 Jan | Sydney Thunder v Sydney Sixers | Sydney Showground Stadium | 7:15pm
Fri 13 Jan | Sydney Thunder v Perth Scorchers | Sydney Showground Stadium | 6:30pm
Thu 19 Jan | Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Renegades | Manuka Oval | 7:15pm
 

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