Photo Credit: Cricket NSW
It’s almost that time of the year when NSW’s cricket stars travel far and wide to meet children across the state and inspire them to play and love cricket. The Country Blitz, Cricket NSW’s amazing annual three-day regional engagement tour, is back!
From August 21-23, tens of thousands of youngsters in NSW’s heartlands will get to meet some of their cricketing heroes when 34 players from the NSW Blues and Breakers, Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder travel to NSW’s remotest corners to play cricket with them.
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The players will participate in a total of 14 Come and Try Days, club cricket clinics and pop-up Cricket Blast programs in the regions and visit an awe-inspiring 85 schools to speak to making the 2023/24 season one of the greatest summers of cricket the state of NSW has ever experienced. They will be a part of 16 events to meet with amazing cricket volunteers that have dedicated their time and energy to building this great game in their areas.
The Country Blitz returned to being a journey of love and gratitude for the players in 2022, after being an online event for the two COVID years. This time, it’s grander and more expansive than the last year.
In the north, Woolgoolga, near Coffs Harbour, will host a grand Woolworths Cricket Blast season launch (August 21, 4pm, Wiigulga Sports Complex, Woolgoolga) alongside Sydney Sixers players.
In the south, Albury is set to host a super clinic (August 21, 4pm, QEII Square, Albury), with players from Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Stars.
All children will be able to try free, fun and friendly cricket activities, meet their heroes and sign up to play cricket.
Included amongst those players visiting the 11 regional areas are Australian representatives such as Kurtis Patterson, Moises Henriques, Stella Campbell, Jackson Bird, Lauren Cheatle, Sarah Coyte and Hannah Darlington, along with rising stars such as Jade Allen, Jason Sangha and Ollie Davies.
Darlington, Australia’s Indigenous team women’s captain and Sydney Thunder star, will make a trip to the state’s Central West, visiting towns such as Bathurst, Cowra and Blayney. She will lead an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clinic with Bathurst Young Mob and the local community on August 21.
NSW Breakers medium-fast bowler Sammy-Jo Johnson, who is returning to her hometown Lismore and is likely to get a hero’s welcome, says she is looking forward to going back to where it all started for her. This time, her visit will include a tour of Lismore’s Flood sites.
“The people of Lismore have been through a lot. I am glad we will be going back to cheer the spirit and resilience of the people of Lismore.
“I love how we can offer a chance to play and love cricket to children in the country. I grew up idolising Brett Lee. The Country Blitz gives children the chance to not only connect with their heroes but also to try cricket and have the fun we all experienced when we started out. For me, it has now driven a lifelong love of the game and friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Cricket NSW CEO Lee Germon said cricket in the state’s country areas represents the heart and soul of the sport.
“More and more of our youngsters that play cricket in our teams are coming from regional areas to represent NSW and Australia on the big stage. The Country Blitz is about inspiring children in the farthest corners of our state to take up cricket,” Germon said.
“We want every child and young cricketer in NSW to be inspired by their cricketing heroes and pick up a bat and ball. We’re there to help them enjoy, love and learn the game. Cricket is the lifeblood of our great Australian sporting tradition, and we want everyone to be inspired to play and love it.”