Sydney Thunder to play Hong Kong in back-to-back practice matches at Wade Park

THUNDER ROLLING IN: It was confirmed on Friday that the Sydney Thunder will play against Hong Kong at Wade Park in December. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

THUNDER ROLLING IN: It was confirmed on Friday that the Sydney Thunder will play against Hong Kong at Wade Park in December. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Rumours have been flying around the colour city for some time but on Thursday Orange City Council sports and recreation community committee chair Jason Hamling confirmed all the whispers.

The Sydney Thunder, reigning Big Bash League (BBL) champions, will play at Wade Park this summer and they will bring their full squad.

That means the likes of 59-Test veteran Shane Watson and Australian cricket wunderkind Pat Cummins.

The Thunder will take on the Hong Kong national side in two Twenty20 trial games at Wade Park on Sunday, December 11 as part of their six-match practice match schedule leading into the sixth edition of the BBL.

STAR POWER: Shane Watson is one of several superstars expected to pad up at Wade Park for the Thunder against Hong Kong. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

STAR POWER: Shane Watson is one of several superstars expected to pad up at Wade Park for the Thunder against Hong Kong. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

“In terms of cricket, this is one of the biggest games Orange has hosted in a long, long time. Council is always trying to attract [marquee sporting events] so the people here don’t have to go over the mountains, they can see [elite sport] in their own area,” Hamling said at the game’s official announcement on Friday morning.

“It’s an international game with Hong Kong playing … and the Thunder have told us they’ll be bringing their whole squad and will be taking the game seriously so it’ll be high quality cricket.”

Hamling said with the quality of players on offer in both sides – former Australian One-Day International player Ryan Campbell is set to play for Hong Kong – he’s hoping for a massive crowd.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Cricket NSW's Matt Tabbernor, Councillor Jason Hamling, ODCA duo Mark Frecklington and Pete Jarick and ODJCA registrar Jo Hunter were on hand to announce the game. Photo: MATT FINDLAY

ANNOUNCEMENT: Cricket NSW's Matt Tabbernor, Councillor Jason Hamling, ODCA duo Mark Frecklington and Pete Jarick and ODJCA registrar Jo Hunter were on hand to announce the game. Photo: MATT FINDLAY

“I’m hoping all sporting fans will come and enjoy the game, not just from Orange but from the entire central west,” Hamling enthused.

“I can’t wait … there’s so much more atmosphere when it comes to watching a game live at the ground. It’s fantastic that local families will be able to enjoy two games on a Sunday at Wade Park.

“I think Cricket NSW realised we have a fantastic facility in Wade Park and I must pay homage to them and the Thunder for bringing the game out to regional NSW, and choosing Orange.”

POTENTIAL DRAWCARD: West Indian superstar Andre Russell could be on show at Wade Park in December. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

POTENTIAL DRAWCARD: West Indian superstar Andre Russell could be on show at Wade Park in December. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Thunder released the squad they expect to show off at Wade Park, including Watson, Cummins, Gurinder Sandhu, teen prodigy Jason Sangha, Clint McKay and Usman Khawaja. 

West Indian superstar Andre Russell remains unsigned, but could be present if the Thunder can secure his signature before the games.

Irish-born England ODI captain Eoin Morgan looms as another priority target for the Thunder in terms of recruitment, and would be another big drawcard should he sign.

Details regarding school visits and curtain-raisers are yet to be confirmed but there will be plenty of community engagement.

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