Blues players dial in for virtual Country Blitz

Virtual net session: Josh Hazlewood (top left) on his Zoom call as part of the Cricket NSW Country Blitz last Wednesday.
Virtual net session: Josh Hazlewood (top left) on his Zoom call as part of the Cricket NSW Country Blitz last Wednesday.

St George cricketers Moises Henriques, Josh Hazlewood, Trent Copeland and Kurtis Patterson dialed in for Cricket NSW's Country Blitz program last week.

The trio were part of more than 30 NSW cricketers and coaches who spoke with students, cricketers and coaches as part of the event which reaches into communities in NSW regional and rural centres from the Tweed down to the Riverina and out to the Far West of the state.

Henriques dialled in from Dubai and spoke with club cricketers from across the Hunter Region as part of this year's Country Blitz which for the second straight year was delivered virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. He wanted to inspire others to pursue their own "cricketing aspirations."

"It's been a challenging couple of years with the pandemic, particularly over recent months and while we can't get out into the community in person, it's great that we can still connect with schools and clubs online," Henriques said.

"Many of Australia's best cricketers have come from areas in regional NSW. The Country Blitz is one way for us as professional cricketers to ensure we keep inspiring the next generation of top cricketers from the country.

"With the pending easing of restrictions for community sport ahead of the summer months, hopefully cricket can offer much-needed relief and enjoyment for people of all ages. I know first-hand just how much I'm looking forward to playing cricket again this summer."

Kurtis Patterson on his Zoom call as part of the Cricket NSW Country Blitz.

Kurtis Patterson on his Zoom call as part of the Cricket NSW Country Blitz.

This year's Country Blitz engaged 16,477 people from regional and rural NSW with players and coaches participating in more 50 virtual Q&A sessions.

A session specifically for girls aged 12 to 18 featuring WBBL players Sam Bates and Angela Reakes was a new addition for this year's blitz. So too was a webinar for community cricket coaches hosted by Blues head coach Phil Jaques and Breakers head coach Gavan Twining.

Cricket NSW general manager of community cricket experience, Joanne Scanlon said this year's Country Blitz was "simply incredible" with a huge amount of "positive feedback" from those who participated.

"Now more than ever it's important for Cricket NSW to remain connected with regional and rural communities who are not only passionate about cricket, but many are isolated in lockdown," she said.

"We would like to send a massive thank you to the teachers and club administrators for their assistance in making this year's virtual Country Blitz the success that it was.

"Our focus now turns to readying ourselves and our cricket community for the commencement of the cricket season in a fun, safe and compliant environment as soon as settings permit."

Ben Dwarshuis

Ben Dwarshuis

Sutherland's Ben Dwarshuis was a late withdrawal from the event after being called up to the Indian Premier League the day before.

Delhi Capitals announced the fast bowler would replace English all-rounder Chris Woakes for the remainder of the IPL 2021 season which resumes in the UAE this week.