Girls Cricket on a High in the Valley
Women’s cricket is riding the crest of a wave. Regular television coverage, professionally contracted players and media managers are now commonplace.
The global momentum is evident in New Zealand too, and the enthusiasm is absolutely evident at Hutt Valley High School (HVHS).
This week at the Petone Rec the First XI will seek to successfully defend the Venus Cup title for a third consecutive time.
The Venus Cup is the Regional qualifier for the Twenty20 Nationals in Christchurch in December. Eight teams, split into two groups, will compete over three days for the right to represent the capital for national supremacy.
Natasha Codyre (Year 13) will be vital in HVHS fortunes. The all-rounder is a member of the Wellington Blaze. She has been in the First XI since Year 9.
“A lot of the girls play club cricket together or grew up with each other. We are a tight unit and work hard to make new girls in the team welcome,” Codyre responded when asked about HVHS success.
A happy environment has reaped dividends for Codyre. Her aggressive batting, accurate bowling and superior work ethic has seen her rub shoulders alongside White Ferns, Amelia Kerr and Sophie Devine in the Blaze.
“It’s pretty surreal to be in their company. The younger girls tend to stick together but the older girls are always there to help.”
“My best moment in the Blaze was taking my first wicket, appealing as hard as I could for caught behind against Otago, then finishing with three wickets. It was unbelievable.”
Wellington Under-19 representative Hannah Kells has started University but remains a regular fixture as an assistant coach at practice. An all-rounder she skippered HVHS to third at Nationals last year. She is selfless and successful.
“Getting to Nationals the past two years has been incredible. The first time was tough because we didn’t win a game, but last year we really competed and won matches for the first time which was awesome.”
“We have five or so new players this season. Seeing them learn the rules and improve the basics is awesome.”
Hutt Districts stalwart Ed Turner and Wellington & CD veteran Michelle McKay are coaches. Turner holds all the girls in high acclaim.
“The first year we went to Nationals we were last but won the spirit award. I think that says a lot about the girls. Their conduct towards the umpire is outstanding and they turn up eager to learn and have performed outstandingly,” he said.
“Michelle McKay’s expertise, commitment and time for the girls has been massive.”
Tawa College are favorites to win the Venus Cup. Tawa toppled HVHS earlier this year but Codyre has plenty of belief.
“If we bat well and execute our plans in the field we can definitely beat them. Every game will be a tough game.”
With nearly 80 players, competing on three fields at the same time, the Venus Cup is one of the biggest gatherings of any cricket tourney in Wellington.
“It’s pretty insane the support the game gets now, people watching us, and the game developing all-around the country. It’s improved a lot since I started playing and I hope that continues,” Codyre said.
The first Nationals were held in 1994 and won by Epsom Girls Grammar School (Auckland) who’ve won a handful of times overall. New Plymouth Girls’ High School was untouchable from 2003 to 2008 while Tawa were back to back champions in 2014 and 2015.
-Story courtesy of College Sport Media