Sydney Sixers duo Henry Thornton and Lauren Smith visit Port Macquarie as part of the annual Country Blitz

HENRY Thornton loves Port Macquarie.

The towering Sydney Sixers fast bowler was again in the region alongside women’s counterpart Lauren Smith as part of the Country Blitz on Wednesday.

It was his second visit to the Hastings as the Big Bash League club continue preparations for the upcoming summer.

“I love coming up here,” he said.

“I think it’s a beautiful part of the world, but for me it’s just getting the kids outdoors, getting active and promoting our brand of cricket.”

Thornton admitted he enjoyed coming to regional parts of New South Wales to help spread the word of cricket while also trying to encourage new players to take up the sport.

“Our main message is just get out and have a go,” Thornton said.

“That’s what we did as kids; I did it in the backyard with my dad and my brother.

“When I started playing a little bit of club cricket that’s all anyone ever asked and that’s all we ask of these boys and girls – just get outside, have a go and have some fun.

“You never know what happens, we could have some future stars (in Port Macquarie) of the Sixers BBL and WBBL in the future.”

Thornton felt the WBBL was leading the way for how to promote women’s sport.

“It’s great to see there’s so much involvement from the girls as well because the WBBL is leading the way for the female sport in all codes and more girls are getting involved.”

Clubmate Smith was hoping to play her part as the Sixers aimed for three-straight Big Bash League titles this summer.

She admitted it was encouraging to see the numbers of young girls that took an interest in cricket increase with the help of the Country Blitz program.

“I love doing these visits and seeing all these young talented kids especially a lot of girls who are now playing,” she said.

“When I was young there weren’t that many females playing in any sport with the boys so now it’s unbelievable seeing all these girls playing.”

Cricket NSW Mid North Coast game development manager Martin Garoni said the Country Blitz program was about “joining in and having fun with your mates.”

“We need to be out talking to people who don’t currently play cricket and encouraging them to have a go and have a bit of fun,” Garoni said.

“Hopefully they gain an interest in the game and become future players or at least watch it on the telly.”

The Sixers start their Big Bash League campaign on December 22 against the Perth Scorchers, while the women start their campaign on December 1 against the Melbourne Stars.

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