The first round of Action Cricket Cup and Action Cricket Twenty20 starts this weekend and it promises to be an exciting season.
On paper Canterbury Magicians look the team to beat. They have always managed to put 11 quality players on the field and this year is no different. The Magicians will be led by Amy Satterthwaite and they will be looking to add to their impressive number of titles.
The Otago Sparks have lost a couple of experienced players, however the team still has the talented Katey Martin and Suzie Bates who will co-lead the team. Lisa Grant is a Sparks player to look after for after an impressive season last year. Young Tapanui left-armer Kate Stiven will also be one to watch, along with Kylie Crowley whose McCullum like shots against pace make her an exciting prospect.
The Wellington Blaze have a new coach this season and will be looking to win another title. They are an exciting Twenty20 team and have the fire power to chase any total. They boast White Ferns Liz Perry, Lucy Doolan and Sian Ruck and England star Sarah Taylor.
The Auckland Hearts have imported West Indian star Stafanie Taylor. She possesses raw hitting power and the Hearts will hope for fast batting tracks to get the most out of their import. Taylor will add the explosiveness they have been missing in recent seasons.
The Central Hinds will be without their stalwart Aimee Watkins who has retired from all cricket. However they have picked up the services of Mike Shrimpton, New Zealand’s only World Cup winning coach, whose experience and expertise will be welcomed. The Hinds chances largely rest with international stars Sara McGlashan and talented keeper/batsmen Rachel Priest. They have exciting young players who will form the backbone of the team.
The Northern Spirit are fortunate to retain the services of White Fern retiree Nicola Browne. The middle order batsmen and opening bowler will again be the glue that holds the young side together. Their up and coming players have looked promising in previous seasons and this could be their time to help put together quality performances.
Smart money would be on a Wellington v Canterbury battling it out for top honours, however Otago could be late runners to make their first ever final. Auckland may provide the biggest upsets with Taylor in their side, however they may struggle if their star does not fire. Central will miss Watkins and Northern will need big things from their young players.