Good things are happening in Central Districts cricket, or continue to happen as the CD Hinds added another trophy to the cabinet after snaring the Hallyburton Johnston Shield in the final of the national 50-over competition. The Hinds defeated Auckland Hearts, by 39 runs as they put up 200 runs from 49.4 overs and then managed to dismiss the Hearts for just 161 with 3ov remaining.
Anlo van Deventer top-scored for either team with 60 to lead the way for the Hinds and while Natalie Dodd chimed in with 48 runs to seal the crown as the overall leading run-scorer, van Deventer's work to score 50+ in the last 4inns was exceptional. The 25-year-old had scores of 59, 51*, 169* and the 60 in the final which saw her finish 3rd in runs and guide the Hinds to the championship.
Van Deventer finished with 514 runs @ 85.66avg/91.45sr and that strike-rate is notable considering that van Deventer was one of two batswomen to score 250+ runs with strike-rates over 90. The other was Kate Anderson from Northern Districts and Anderson only averaged 41.62, so to average 85.66 with a strike-rate of 91.45 is kinda bonkers.
Dodd's campaign was also lovely, scoring 652 runs @ 108.66avg/67sr. While van Deventer is putting up a strong case to be another youngster ushered into the White Ferns, the narrative of the exposing the gap between Aotearoa domestic cricket and international cricket leading into a vibe of requiring greater experience in the White Ferns is reinforced by the leading run-scorers. We currently have clear evidence of how difficult it is for young kiwi women to make the domestic to international jump. At the same time, we have four of the five top run-scorers from this 50-over competition, who have previous international experience for Aotearoa.
Natalie Dodd (CD): 1st in runs, 13 ODIs, 6 T20Is.
Kate Ebrahim (Cant): 2nd in runs, 31 ODIs, 37 T20Is.
Frances Mackay (Cant): 4th in runs, 19 ODIs, 28 T20Is.
Liz Perry (Well): 5th in runs, 17 ODIs, 31 T20Is.
Guess what!? None of that group played any international cricket over the summer and Ebrahim is the only one who has played an ODI since the start of 2018. In exploring the struggles/demise of the White Ferns, the preference for younger players over those with experience has been a key factor an numerous experienced players have been ... well, kinda ignored.
That policy was all good when the Ferns were winning via Suzie Bates, Amy Satterthwaite and Sophie Devine's excellence. Now that the Ferns aren't winning due to other nations improving swiftly and dramatically, the younger players have been exposed. It's weird to have four players with White Ferns experience who are averaging 65+ (three averaged 80+) not play any ODI cricket this summer.
You could counter by highlighting their lack of performances in international cricket and that these stats come at the end of the competition, thus after White Ferns squads were selected. Fair play, it's still weird though and someone like Auckland's Katie Perkins who did re-join the White Ferns had to wait to play while younger players played their way out of contention.
This is enhanced by the major area of concern for Aotearoa being the batting. The best bowlers in the domestic competition were largely of the younger variety and the Hinds enjoyed fine service from Rosemary Mair (2w @ 3rpo), Hannah Rowe (3w @ 3.25rpo) and Jess Watkin (2w @ 2.90rpo). Auckland's Holly Huddleston scored 56 and took 2w @ 2.90rpo for the Hearts and given that Rowe, Watkin and Huddleston all have White Ferns experience but weren't selected for the Rose Bowl, one could bring up the same argument as the batting.
The bowlers are younger though and those three have struggled to demand consistent White Ferns selection. I interpret that as an example of how difficult the jump is from domestic to intnational cricket and unlike the Ferns batting line up; a fairly wide group of bowlers has been rotated in and out of the line up, around consistent selections such as Lea Tahuhu.
Skye Bowden took the most wickets in the final with 4w @ 3.70rpo for Auckland, her best performance of the competition. Bowden finished with 7w @ 25.28/4.05rpo, while the leading wicket-taker was Wellington's Deanna Doughty with 21w @ 13.42avg/2.96rpo via her leggies. Wellington had two leggies average under 15 as Amelia Kerr took 14w @ 10.78rpo as well.
The top-five bowlers...
Deanna Doughty (Well): 21w @ 13.42avg/2.96rpo.
Rosemary Mair (CD): 17w @ 15.29avg/3.44rpo.
Holly Huddleston (Auck): 17w @ 15.88avg/3.31rpo.
Amelia Kerr (Well): 14w @ 10.78avg/2.94rpo.
Leigh Kasperek (Auck): 13w @ 9.61avg/2.67rpo.
There is a fantastic young tinge to the best bowlers and Watkin finished 6th in wickets - she's 20yrs. That means that four of the top-six are 25 or under, while Kasperek is 27yrs and Huddleston 31yrs. However you want to chop that, it's far different to the batting side of things and this points to a very broad idea to wrap things up; White Ferns need experienced batting around their big-three and with that bolstered batting unit, then rotate the exciting young bowlers.
As I've explored in recent weeks, the journey of Aotearoa's White Ferns is far more complicated than team selections. We can however see that there is some level of alignment in the White Ferns issues, selection vibes and who the best performers were in the domestic 50-over competition.
A lack of resource, funding and professionalism could be covered over by shrewd selection in which experienced players are selected with youth sprinkled into a strong team environment of international performance. When that lack of resource, funding and professionalism is combined with a heavy reliance on younger players, then the result is what we have now.
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