The Melbourne Stars touched down in Latrobe Valley this afternoon to rapturous fanfare at Trafalgar Primary School ahead of tomorrow’s Valley Smash against the Hobart Hurricanes in Traralgon.
Enamoured school kids had the chance to rub shoulders with their cricket heroes on the eve of the game, with the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Adam Zampa, John Hastings and Rob Quiney swamped by eager fans.
Fresh from a win over the Sydney Thunder in their penultimate practice match in Albury on Tuesday, Australian international all-rounder James Faulkner said he and his Stars teammates were ready to shine in Traralgon tomorrow night.
“It’s always nice to play away from stadiums and see different fans who love the game, where we just came from (the Border Bash in Albury) they were very supportive of both teams and excited to have us so hopefully it’s the same tomorrow,” Faulkner said.
“All good no injuries all the boys are fine and excited to play another practice game before the (Big Bash League) series kicks off in Brisbane.”
Faulkner said it was exciting to see the enthusiasm of the local community during the team’s first of several engagement activities today and tomorrow, leading into the big game from 6.30pm Friday night.
“It’s good to see the smiles on their faces and it’s always good to get out in the community, especially the schools,” he said.
“Just signing for the kids, a few arms as well a bit of flesh which is a bit different, but they’re all happy and smiling and hopefully a few of them get along tomorrow night.
“I haven’t been here before so hopefully we can get a crowd along, they support both teams and it can be good for the community.”
The Stars galaxy split up this afternoon for a range of coaching clinics and community visits.
Decorated players Scott Boland and Evan Gulbis joined Hastings, Zampa and Faulkner to lead a masterclass for Gippsland Pride’s boys and girls representative sides at Stoddart Park, Traralgon while Marcus Stoinis and Maxwell led an under 12 indigenous clinic with Budjeri Napan in Morwell.
The BBL perennial powerhouse is also staging superclinics tomorrow morning for a range of schools from across the region at Duncan Cameron Park, capping off an extensive engagement campaign with more than 5000 kids and 150 schools involved.
Stars skipper Hastings said Big Bash fever was rife in the Valley with the game fast approaching.
“It’s brilliant we were lucky enough to come about a month ago and all the support… it’s a really good vibe and buzz so we’re looking forward to hopefully putting on a really good show tomorrow,” Hastings said.
“It’s massive, I came down and did a few of the promos and had a bit of a chat to a few of the local clubs a couple of months ago and they were really excited then, so it’s been building over the last couple of months and we’re just really excited for the opportunity to be down here and put on a good show for the locals.”
The Valley Smash Big Bash League practice match between the Stars and the Hurricanes starts at 6.30pm tomorrow night at Traralgon Recreation Reserve.
For tickets and more information visit www.latrobevalleysmash.com.au