Melissa Hansen batting for New Zealand in the last transtasman series in 2016. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

CRICKET

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Wairarapa’s Melissa Hansen is well on track for her goal of playing at the next Indoor Cricket World Cup.

The 22-year-old was last week named in the wider New Zealand squad ahead of next year’s transtasman series in September.

Indoor Cricket New Zealand held their yearly senior provincial competition the weekend before in Auckland, and then named their men’s and women’s wider squads in both the 21 and under, and premier grades.

Hansen is part of a 15-strong premier women squad, which will be cut down to 12 for the tournament.

She is no stranger to the environment, having played in the same series in 2016 and then at the World Cup in Dubai the following year.

They may have lost the last transtasman series 0-5 two years ago, but Hansen is keen to have another crack at their Australian rivals.

“Last time it was a five-match series against Australia and it really tested us – we got close a couple of times which was good.

“I want to play in the next World Cup as well so it’s another stepping stone towards that.”

Due to the dearth of international indoor fixtures in any year, teams are announced well in advance to give players and coaching staff adequate planning and preparation time.

There were several new players in each squad, compared with the squads who competed at last year’s World Cup in Dubai.

Some players were not available for the tournament and as a result were not selected, while others were elevated from previous age group teams.

Australia have been the benchmark in both men’s and women’s indoor cricket since the first men’s World Cup in 1995 [women first competed in 1998] and have been so dominant that they have never been ousted from their spot as world champions.

At the last World Cup, they beat New Zealand in the men’s final, and South Africa in the women’s final.

Jesse Ryder. PHOTO/FILE

Despite the daunting level of the competition, Hansen has high hopes for the squad.

“There’s some new, younger players in the squad which is exciting.

“There will probably be some training camps after summer because a lot of the girls play domestic outdoor cricket as well.”

Hansen is one of many who will be playing on the domestic circuit this summer, and she is keen for another successful season with the Wairarapa Korus and Central Hinds.

Before then, however, she is heading overseas for a month-long holiday.

“When I get back it will be full swing into cricket, so it’s just take it as it comes once we get into the season.

“There are a few new team members in the Hinds and a couple of returning players, so things might look a bit different — but hopefully, we can put a few good performances out.”

Two players with Wairarapa connections have also been named in the men’s wider squads for next year’s transtasman series.

Ryan James has been named in the 21 and under boys’ team, while Masterton-born former Black Cap Jesse Ryder is in the premier men’s wider squad.