ROUNDS 3 and 4
FREE admission in Palmerston North • Mosgiel • Auckland
Saturday 1 December and Sunday 2 December
UPDATE: ROUND THREE RESULTS
Shock unbeaten leaders the Central Hinds beat Wellington Blaze by 124 runs, the Hinds' third bonus point victory on the bounce pushing them to the top of the table.
Defending champs the Auckland Hearts kept on their heels with a tight DLS win in Auckland over Northern Spirit, by seven runs, to sit one point below the Hinds heading into Sunday's Round.
In Otago, the Sparks won their match against the Canterbury Magicians in Mosgiel with ample time to head into town to catch the business end of The Ford Trophy Grand Final. The Sparks won by 43 runs for their second win of the season.
A cluster of WHITE FERNS are back and excited to join their domestic sides for their first taste of national one-day cricket this summer.
The table’s two early leaders — defending champions the Auckland Hearts and Central Hinds both on a maximum 10 points after two bonus-point victories in the opening rounds — both have home advantage and, like everyone across the country, will just need the early summer weather to play ball to look to stay on top.
The Sparks will meanwhile head out to Mosgiel for their southern derby matches against competitive rivals the Canterbury Magicians. In the event that University of Otago Oval, Dunedin, is available on Sunday — which depends on whether a reserve day is required for The Ford Trophy Grand Final — Sunday’s round four match will see the teams move to University of Otago Oval. The matches had originally been scheduled for one of the Sparks’ other home grounds in Oamaru, but wet spring weather affecting pitch preparation saw a decision taken to transfer the matches.
Coming off a win and a loss, the Sparks will be without their exciting young left-arm pace bowler Kate Heffernan who has ruled herself out of the rest of the competition due to netball commitments with Southern Steel, to whom she is contracted. Heffernan, 19, made her WHITE FERNS T20 debut earlier this year.
Suzie Bates will also be missing from the squad as captain of the Adelaide Strikers in the WBBL across the Tasman, but gain the services of WHITE FERNS duo Katey Martin and Leigh Kasperek back from the World T20 in the Caribbean.
Youngsters Olivia Gain, Eden Carson and Emma Black are unavailable for Sunday and will play Saturday only with Bella James, Marina Lamplough and Bridget Thayer coming in for Round Four.
In Palmerston North the barnstorming Central Hinds are hoping to continue their epic start to the season after the young side —and this without their WHITE FERNS duo of Hannah Rowe and Jess Watkin — claimed nine-wicket and ten-wicket victories over Northern Spirit in New Plymouth.
It was a brilliant start for Natalie Dodd’s fresh Hallyburton Johnstone Shield start in green against her old team, but this time captain Anlo van Deventer and the team will be up against what should prove stiffer competition in Wellington Blaze, even though Blaze remains without some of its big-name players.
Young Hinds allrounder Taila Hurley misses the rounds with a shoulder injury, but Manawatū local Rowe will be fizzed to get out and contribute on her home turf of Fitzherbert Park, on a surface more likely to suit her than those at the World T20. She’s also been in hot form with the bat, coming off a century for Manawatū against Rosemary Mair’s Hawke’s Bay in the Mike Shrimpton Trophy.
A squad of 13 has been named with Esther Lanser available for Saturday’s Round Three only.
For Blaze, WBBL commitments see Rachel Priest (newly signed to Sydney Thunder) and Sophie Devine MIA, but star spinner Amelia Kerr returns and is ready to make a big impact with bat and ball.
Returning captain Maddy Green comes back for the Auckland Hearts alongside fellow WHITE FERN Holly Huddleston and the defending champions play their first home games out east in the city at Colin Maiden Park against Northern Spirit.
After thumping the Canterbury Magicians away in the opening rounds, the Hearts will be looking to inflict more pain on Northern Spirit who limped away from their two heavy losses against the Hinds early doors. Green says her strong, well balanced team “is in a good place and I’m really looking forward to getting out there for the Hearts.”
But she won’t be taking Spirit lightly. “They always bring a challenge, so we’re not going to be relaxing. We know their girls pretty well and they have some very talented players.”
Spirit has regained the services of internationals Bernadine Bezuidenhout and ex-Blaze star Eimear Richardson who faced each other in pool play in the West Indies, with Bezuidenhout’s WHITE FERNS earning victory over Richardson’s Ireland.
Spirit captain Sam Curtis says the team’s start was obviously disappointing, no prizes for guessing that.
“Our top five struggled to get starts which made it very tough for our bowlers to defend. But we’ve gone away as a batting unit, worked very hard on our individual games and are looking forward to getting another chance against the Auckland Hearts this weekend.
“Having Bernie and Eimear back in the squad also adds more strength to our batting line-up,” Curtis said. “We will be relying on every single player to step up and contribute if we’re going to come away with a couple of victories this weekend.”
The Hallyburton Johnstone Shield doubleheader across the country this weekend sees Saturday’s Round Three games start at 10.30am and Sunday’s Round Four at the slightly earlier time of 10.00am at all venues.
Livescoring here on www.nzc.nz for all games!
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