Martin and Black lead their team off | Images : PHOTOSPORT

Record Sparks win opens season with a bang



Otago Sparks beat Central Hinds by 213 runs


Saxton Oval, Nelson

30 October 2021


A maiden five-for for Emma Black

Hold. The. Phone. A 21-match losing streak in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield came to a screeching halt as Katey Martin thundered to an unbeaten century in the first game of the women's Domestic summer - utterly spoiling a Saxton Oval christening for the Central Hinds.

It was the first ever match in Nelson in the Hinds' 42 years of existence, but the occasion at the stunning ground got to them as they crashed to a record loss against the Sparks.

Otago came to play, suddenly looking like a real force on the Domestic scene.

Suzie Bates takes a top catch

WHITE FERNS star Suzie Bates was available (having elected to skip the WBBL this year due to the hassles of MIQ) and the vastly experienced powerhouse Kate Ebrahim had transferred south from defending title-holders the Canterbury Magicians over the off-season, now that husband Dion Ebrahim is coaching the men's Otago Volts team.

Roll in WHITE FERNS Hayley Jensen and Katey Martin and - even with another internationally experienced recruit in ex-ND skipper Felicity Leydon-Davis injured, this is one potent Sparks side.

Ebrahim hit the ground running in her first HBJ match for the blue and golds. She was unlucky not to slam a century on Otago debut, stranded on 96 not out off 130 balls after freeing her arms at the death.

But by then she had shared in back-to-back century partnerships - firstly with Bella James, putting on 118 for the second wicket; then in a brutal, unbeaten third-wicket stand of 159 with the WHITE FERNS keeper-batter and gold-plated Sparks legend Martin.

The Sparks got off to a terrific start thanks to a litany of dropped catches from an understrength Hinds team.

Central was missing their new captain and run machine Natalie Dodd (trapped in Level 3 lockdown), WHITE FERN Rosemary Mair (working way back from injury) - and their remaining WHITE FERNS winter tourists, Hannah Rowe and Claudia Green, were restricted to half a dozen overs each instead of the full set of 10, due to an NZC protocol of bowling loads needing to be built up again after their post-tour MIQ.

The same was true for the Sparks' Jensen, but the Otago visitors weren't held back at all thanks to a maiden five-wicket bag for the flying pacewoman Emma Black.

About the only thing that went to plan for the Hinds on their special day was winning the toss - but even than quickly backfired on a flat, used deck and fast outfield.

Records were shattered all over the show. The Hinds' meek 78 all out (in just 26.1 overs) in reply was their lowest ever total against the Sparks. It was their 10th lowest total ever.

The Sparks' 213-run landslide victory was conversely the largest ever against the Hinds, and the win was their largest against any side in their one-day history, and 291/2 their fourth highest total of all time.

Crazy to think that, before this season opener, they had been the routine cellar dwellers, on that horrendous drought in this competition, having gone a long 32 months without getting to sing the song.

And it had all started so innocently - sent in, and then things going awry for a brief moment as hometown Hinds bowler Claudia Green got the big wicket of Suzie Bates early, caught by Cate Pedersen at 14/1.

Pedersen was one of two HBJ debutantes in the rejigged Hinds side, the opening batter in for Dodd and debuting alongside Gemma Sims - who played her first Dream11 Super Smash match at the back end of last season.

It was a rough introduction.

Ebrahim opened with Bates and shared in two century stands, first with Bella James. They poured the platform with 118 runs for the second wicket, before Melissa Hansen finally had James caught on 53 in the 29th over.

It was a long time between drinks for the Hinds' attack, on a sweaty hot morning.

The platform set, they then faced an onslaught from the dream pairing of Ebrahim and Martin - the latter racing to her seventh List A century (and with it, her 6000th List A run) and finishing unbeaten on 111* off just 74 balls, after 14 boundaries and a six.

The Hinds had used seven bowlers, and they were guilty of an untidy performance first-up.

Still, they had a chance to redeem themselves with the bat in the good conditions, if they could get off to a power start of their own chasing the Sparks' 291/2, and get a decent total.

But they were not permitted to even get close. The top five, including the two debutantes, all went for single figure scores with the team 29/5 inside the first 10 overs of the reply.

It was a long way to go from there and, after sharing the early wicket-taking thrills with Molly Loe (a career best 3-7), it was Emma Black who muscled in and carried on for the bag, whistling through the tail for 5-28 off seven overs before Jensen wrapped it up with the last strike.

One to forget for the Hinds,. One to remember for the delighted Sparks who took a bonus point first game of summer,Β  but more importantly a bag full of confidence.







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