Season starts for Wellington Blaze this weekend

Above: The Wellington Blaze welcome back Sophie Devine as captain this year, after a year off playing hockey.

The 2012-13 summer of cricket for the Wellington Blaze starts this weekend over three days at Karori Park against the Central Hinds to mark the start of the domestic women’s One-Day and Twenty20 competitions

This weekend against Central is the first of five full rounds of three days’ cricket for the Blaze against the other Major Association women’s teams - the Hinds, the Canterbury Magicians, the Otago Sparks, the Auckland Hearts and the Northern Spirit.

In a change from the past few seasons, Twenty20 matches will be played on the first day of each round and 50-over One-Day fixtures will be contested on the second and third days. Previously they played two Twenty20 games and one 50-over contest

Games this weekend see the Blaze and the Hinds meet on Friday from 4.00pm in their Twenty20 match and on Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am in their 50-over clashes.

The Wellington Blaze, who missed out on both finals last year after very good recent records in both formats of the game, welcome back star player Sophie Devine after a year away from the game playing hockey.

Devine, who was Wellington’s Women’s Player of the Year two seasons ago, returns to captain the Blaze this year, a challenge she is excited about.

“It’s great to be back playing cricket for Wellington after taking last season off cricket altogether,” Devine said. “I look forward to coming back to the Blaze and helping them push for some titles.”

“Captaincy is a challenge I look forward to as well. With the help of the other senior players such as Lucy Doolan and Sian Ruck, our international player for this season Leigh Kasperek and an exciting group of young players coming through, hopefully I can make a difference on and off the field.”

Devine takes over as captain from Megan Wakefield, who retired at the end of last season.

Scottish international Kasperek, who joins the Blaze for the whole season, brings plenty of experience. She was awarded Player of the Year at Essex in 2012 and also averaged 40 in the Australian Domestic championship last year playing for the Western Fury.

Gemma Krebs the 16 year old New Zealand indoor cricket representative has been added to the squad and is an exciting prospect for the future.

Leigh Kelly returns for his second season as Head Coach of the Blaze and said the team can’t wait to get their campaign underway: “We have prepared well and have had a couple of warm up games and are now looking forward to Central on Friday.”

Kelly is joined by Mark Coles as assistant coach and Kevin Pulley will once again manage the side.

The Wellington Blaze’s full Twenty20 and 50-over One-Day competition schedule this summer is:

•    Friday 23 – Sunday 25 November v Central Hinds, Karori Park
•    Friday 30 November - Sunday 2 December v Northern Spirit, Bay Park Mt. Maunganui
•    Friday 7 - Sunday 9 December v Canterbury Magicians, Linden Park
•    Thursday 27 - Saturday 29 December v Otago Sparks, Lincoln University
•    Tuesday 1 -Thursday 3 January v Auckland Hearts, Melville Park Auckland
•    Saturday 12 January – 50-over final TBC
•    Sunday 13 January Twenty20 final TBC

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