A special day for Wellington Blaze | PHOTOSPORT

Blaze wins thriller for Hallyburton Johnstone Shield



Saturday, 4 March 2023

Sir John Davies Oval, Queenstown

WELLINGTON BLAZE 258/8 defeated CANTERBURY MAGICIANS 254/7 by 4 runs

Toss: Blaze who batted


Selected milestones:

Amy Satterthwaite: last appearance for Canterbury Magicians

Maddy Green: fourth List A century, second for Wellington Blaze

Maddy Green: equal career best score for Wellington Blaze

Gabby Sullivan: third List A haul of 4 wickets for Canterbury Magicians

Leigh Kasperek: eighth haul of 4 wickets in List A cricket


Wellington Blaze captain Leigh Kasperek paid tribute to "a major team effort" from her Hallyburton Johnstone Shield-winning squad, as well as paying tribute to retiring Cantabrian and WHITE FERNS legend Amy Satterthwaite, after a hard-fought national final went down to the wire in Queenstown.

The last-ball finish denied the Canterbury Magicians the Dream11 Super Smash/Hallyburton Johnstone Shield double that they had been hoping for and saw Kasperek's Blaze claim the one-day trophy for the first time since 2003/04 (when the title was shared with the Magicians after a washed out final).

It was the first the Blaze had lifted the trophy outright since 1989/90 (which had also been at Canterbury's expense), and reversed Blaze's hard loss to the Otago Sparks at the same venue in last season's final.

The Magicians had needed a six off the last delivery if they were to deny the Blaze today, but rookie Nicole Baird permitted only a single off her last ball to ensure Wellington clinched a drought-breaking, four-ball victory.

Just one ball earlier, Baird had struck a critical blow as she bowled a potential Magicians matchwinner, Lea Tahuhu, off the penultimate ball of the game.

Tahuhu had just pelted a 22-ball 31, almost hauling in an escalating required run rate after having come into bat at 202/6 in the 45th over.

She crossed paths with wife Amy Satterthwaite as the latter left the park for the final time, having hit the Magicians' top score, a 72-ball 66, in her farewell match before she was stumped off a Kasperek wide.

The Magicians had been chasing 259 for victory. The Blaze had put 258/8 on the board, and both teams exerted good pressure with the ball in an oscillating, see-sawing and gripping contest worthy of a Final between two of New Zealand's most accomplished Domestic one-day sides.

Every ball of Maddy Green's fourth List A century in the first innings, a run-a-ball 106, had proved vital to her side. It equalled the WHITE FERN's career best, and was her second ton for Wellington Blaze, and third in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield competition.

Green had been supported by opener Jess McFadyen with a gutsy 53, but there was little else for the Blaze batters to write home about.

Tahuhu (2/26) had made a fierce start to the game with her big early wickets, and Gabby Sullivan putting herself on an unconverted hat-trick en route to a tidy 4/54 at the death.

Tahuhu also took a good catch to give Satterthwaite her own last wicket, but Blaze's bowling attack showed that they could fight fire with fire, even as the sun came out in the afternoon and the biting wind of the morning began to ebb.

All of Blaze's frontline bowlers kept things tight, Kasperek going on to a haul of 4/46 off her 10 overs and Baird finishing with 2/44. Jess Kerr picked up the remaining wicket, that of opener Abigale Gerken, for 1/39.

Satterthwaite said it was "gutting" to get so close to a win in her final game, without the spoils.

"I thought we did extremely well to get that close," said the left-hand legend who retires as one of just two New Zealanders, alongside Suzie Bates, to have scored more than 10,000 runs in women's List A cricket.

"It hit me this morning that this is it [the last game], and I've felt really content with my decision. But when it actually comes to your last day, it's interesting emotions.

"I had to write a note on the wall saying, 'Don't be sad that it's over, be happy that it happened,' I just wanted to remind myself of what I have been through over the last 20 or so years, how much I've enjoyed it, and I just wanted to really smile as much as I could to enjoy this last moment, whether we won or lost."

It wasn't the fairytale ending for Satterthwaite, but neither team would allow her to slink off into the sunset without some fanfare. She had led the Magicians team on and off the field in the first innings, and the Wellington Blaze team formed a guard of honour in the middle as she walked out to bat for the last time.

She received a standing ovation as she came back in with her last half century by her name and, following the trophy presentation, the Wellington Blaze squad, together with Tahuhu and commentators Bates, Katey Martin and Frankie Mackay sang the WHITE FERNS' waiata (song) to her in tribute.

There were some wet eyes in the aftermath, and Green emphasised how much Satterthwaite had meant to so many players in the New Zealand game.

"Amy's not just a legend of Canterbury cricket, but of New Zealand women's cricket as well, and it's fitting for her that she's played in two finals this season.

"She showed her class again and again.

"Amy's been a big mentor for me throughout my career, and it's not only me. I know Melie Kerr couldn't speak more highly of Amy.

"I think she'll be really missed, not just for what she can do on the cricket field, but for her [warm] personality. The waiata is a tradition in the WHITE FERNS that we use to welcome and farewell people, and we just wanted to say thank you to her with our waiata today, for everything that she has contributed to our game."

Satterthwaite finished as the season's second highest Hallyburton Johnstone Shield runscorer with 406 runs at an 81.20 average, behind only Otago Spark Kate Ebrahim's 588 at an average of 98.00.

Gabby Sullivan edged Leigh Kasperek as the top bowler in the competition this summer, with 21 wickets at 15.05 and Kasperek the leading spinner with 20 at 12.85.

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