The women’s domestic cricket season gets underway this weekend with three full rounds of action being played around the country.
The Twenty20 competition kick starts the summer with three matches on Friday, before two full rounds of the One Day competition take place on Saturday and Sunday.
There will be an extra incentive for players to perform, with spots in the White Ferns up for grabs ahead of the home series against the West Indies in February-March and the ICC World Twenty20 soon after.
White Ferns Coach Katrina Keenan says: “There’s a real opportunity for all domestic players to push for White Ferns selection this summer and I’ll be watching closely to see who the consistent performers are.”
As with last year, each team will play one Twenty20 fixture each week and two One Day matches. At the conclusion of the round-robin the top two seeded sides will meet in a finals weekend on the 25th and 26th of January.
Having won the One Day format and made the final of the Twenty20 competition in 2012-13, the Canterbury Magicians will be intent on having another strong year. Their dominance of women’s domestic cricket in recent times is undeniable, but it was evident last year that the other Major Associations are catching up.
Top of the pack is the Wellington Blaze, who took the Twenty20 title last year and will be one of the favourites again this season. White Fern Sophie Devine will undoubtedly play a key role, but will also get great assistance from new addition Rachel Priest, while the dangerous Liz Perry also returns to the capital.
The Auckland Hearts will be determined to go one better this season, having lost agonisingly by one wicket in the 50 over final last year. They are only expected to improve though, with the experienced Sara McGlashan now among their ranks, joining an ace batting line-up which includes Victoria Lind, Sam Curtis, Maddy Green and Katie Perkins.
A youthful Central Hinds side will have plenty of opportunities to continue to develop, while the Northern Spirit and Otago Sparks shouldn’t be ruled out when they hold strike weapons like Nicola Browne (Spirit) and Suzie Bates (Sparks). The Sparks will also benefit from the services of Nicole Bolton, with the Australian player returning for her second season with the southerners.
The opening round on 6 December sees the Magicians host the Blaze, while the Spirit host the Sparks and the Hearts host the Hinds.