Griffith, Gibson Thunder in to put OPS’ next generation through their paces | Photos

Being from Bathurst and Singleton, respectively, Sydney Thunder stars Lisa Griffith and Maisy Gibson both have strong roots in the country, which is a massive reason they enjoyed this week’s Cricket NSW Country Blitz so much.

The pair were at Cowra and Mudgee earlier in the week before landing at Orange Public School on Wednesday morning and putting the next generation of stars through their paces ahead of this summer’s Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL).

The Country Blitz is an annual event designed at promoting the game, particularly the women’s game, and this year coincides with the establishment of the Woolworths Cricket Blast program.

At OPS the visit was timely considering 2018 was the first time in many years the school had entered a girls’ side in the NSW Primary School Sports Association tournament, which they’ll do again in 2019.

“There’s a lot of roots here, for me,” Griffith said, in a nice coincidence her father Greg also happened to attend OPS many years ago.

“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.

“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 here and help provide these kids with the same opportunities that I had, or more.”

Gibson echoed those sentiments, particularly because she explained she rarely had this kind of opportunity as a youngster.

“I love coming to regional areas,” the 21-year-old leg-spinner smiled.

“I didn’t really know cricket was a big thing until I started making representative teams, you know, the Country Blitz is a great way to promote the fact that players from country areas can make it.

“Especially the girls, and letting them know the [WBBL] is just getting bigger and better and that the opportunities are there.”

This year’s WBBL is the fourth edition and after claiming the title in the tournament’s inaugural season in 2015-16 the Thunder will be gunning to return to the top. 

They were knocked out by the Perch Scorchers in last year’s semi-final, before the Sydney Sixers went on to win a second straight title.

“If we can go one better and make the final, or two better and win, that’d be amazing,” Griffith said, the Thunder’s first game will be against the Melbourne Renegades on December 2.

The visit also came at the same time as the Thunder Foundation’s joint donation to regional NSW, to support the drought-ravaged community.

They’re combined contribution of $15,000 will enable 460,000 litres of water and 250 hay bales to be provided to farmers in need.