From Nyngan to Parkes and Eumungerie to Orange, the western area was treated to visits from Sydney Thunder cricketers this week as part of the annual Cricket NSW Country Blitz.
Ryan Gibson and his Big Bash teammate Liam Hatcher toured around the western area while Lisa Griffith and Maisy Gibson also delighted a number of students in the region’s schools.
Gibson and Hatcher were in Nyngan and Eumungerie earlier in the week, and they proved a massive hit with a number of young, aspiring stars.
As well as talking about the benefits of playing cricket and being healthy, there was also a lot of time for some fun.
“We had a nice little game to see who could keep the ball up the longest, and I got beat, which is not great,” Gibson joked while at Nyngan.
“Every kid has the potential to be something, its just making sure they get pathways or get in a program where they can develop their skills.
“I know myself growing up it was one of these programs that actually got me into playing cricket, so if it wasn't for that then I don’t think I would be here today,” he said.
The trip to the western area was also meaningful for Griffith.
The Bathurst star has spent the bulk of her career playing at home but that hasn’t stopped her from making an impact in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) with the Thunder.
That pathway and ability to make an impact as a country player something she was keen to pass on to students.
““It’s nice to come home … to get around the central west and get in touch with some country kids, and just play some cricket,” she said from Orange.
“I was one of these kids, I went to Kelso Public School, so it’s great to come out and get in touch with the kids that were in the same boat as I was once, and engage with kids in areas that perhaps don’t get [as much exposure] to top-level players.
“The Country Blitz is a great initiative. I’m really grateful that I can come out.”
The passion for cricket in the region was clear for all involved and Gibson, himself a player who has spent the bulk of his life in the city, was thrilled to see the excitement the trip created.
After visiting Nyngan, which he said was “great”, Gibson said he has hopes in the future they will host a trial game out west
“Coming out here has been great, everyone's been very welcoming to us all,” he said.
“Hopefully we can bring some games out here and give these guys a little bit of more interaction with all our players.”
The Thunder will be in action in the BBL from December 19.