For many of our Wellington cricketers, the off season is a time to enjoy a variety of winter sports or simply the piece and quiet of a calm Saturday afternoon. However with the global growth of the female game, opportunities are now possible for players to test their skills in a number of climates against diverse opposition. This winter has seen four of our Wellington Blaze sign with English clubs or county’s for the duration of the English 2017 summer season.
Rachel Priest has returned to Berkshire County in the Royal London Women’s One Day Cup for a second year in a row. With three fixtures already played, Priest has begun to adapt to conditions and find form scoring 47 in her latest match against Middlesex. The New Zealand wicket keeper finds herself in the outfield for Berkshire with the county keen to develop their young talent behind the stumps, Priest welcoming the opportunity to focus on her batting before joining the New Zealand squad on June 10th in preparation for the ICC World Cup which will be held in June/July, before the T20 Kia Super League takes off in August with Priest confirmed as an overseas professional for the Western Storm.
At age 27, Sophie Devine has signed her first contract with an English county club, only yesterday announced as the latest signing for Warwickshire County to compete in the Royal London Women’s One Day Cup. Having missed the second half of the NZ season, Devine has spent the last few months rehabing from a broken right thumb. Departing for England within the week, the hard hitting all rounder is straight into the action and is set to play against Berkshire (and Priest) on Sunday 28 May and Middlesex on Monday Monday 29 May. As a senior player in the WHITE FERNS World Cup squad, Devine will be keen to get some match play in preparation for what has been described as the most competitive World Cup ever (due to the now established professional era for most national womens teams). As one of the movers from the inaugural Kia Super League in 2016, Devine has signed for the Yorkshire Diamonds in 2017 which will round up her English summer of cricket.
Specialist bat Suzie McDonald has taken break from her role at New Zealand Rugby Union and joined Devon County in the Royal London Women’s One Day Cup. After a disrupted Blaze season having suffered a broken bone in her hand, McDonald made the decision to travel overseas and play top level cricket. A Massey University nursing graduate specialising in mental health, McDonald is yet to find form with the bat after three innings for Devon, but returned figures of 1-31 when given the ball against Somerset. Playing for Plympton Cricket Club in the Devon Premier League, a top score of 59* for the Women’s 1st XI claimed victory in the sole club game played, while McDonald has also made appearances for the clubs mens 2nd XI team in the middle order.
Rosemary Cockle has joined J G Meakin Cricket Club for the 2017 English summer. The 22 year old right arm seam bowler is based in Stoke-on-Trent with the club competing in the Women’s Midlands League- John Smart Premier Division. Cockle has kitted out for both the clubs mens and womens teams, including the mens 1st XI team. With a top score of 33 for the mens 3rd team and best bowling figures of 1-29 for the womens 1st XI, Cockle is getting plenty of time in the middle with J G Meakin 1st XI women sitting top of the table 22 points ahead of 2nd place.
While the Blaze players based in Wellington over winter have merged seamlessly back into everyday work or study and joined up with winter sporting codes, the opportunity to travel the world and play cricket has never been greater for our female players at any level; club, county or internationally. For the players here however, the Blaze winter programme has already started, the Strength & Conditioning sessions well underway with trainer Andrew Smith, while formal skill sessions are set to start up in June/July.