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Hansen, Rance celebrate big 50s

Seth Rance. PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES

Melissa Hansen and Seth Rance both played their 50th List A match for Central Districts on Sunday. Times-Age sportswriter Chris Cogdale talked to the two Wairarapa stars about their achievements.

Seth Rance

Inspired by his heroes

Seth Rance’s one-day highlight for the Central Stags came in his debut against Canterbury at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth in February 2010.

Among his opponents were two of the medium-fast bowler’s heroes, former Black Caps – fast bowler Shane Bond, and all-rounder Chris Harris.

“I grew up a massive fan of Shane Bond and as a bowler tried to base myself around what he did and tried to bowl fast and swing the ball in, and Chris Harris was a major player I looked up to growing up,” he said.

“To debut against those two guys was definitely a highlight. I managed to get Chris Harris out in that game too, and to get your childhood hero out in your first game was pretty special.”

Rance has since developed into one of the best white-ball bowlers in New Zealand and has taken 87 wickets at an impressive average of 26.87, and a sound economy rate of 5.28 runs per over.

Rance’s form led to his selection for two one-day internationals against Ireland and Bangladesh in 2017.

He then played eight T20s for the Black Caps, the last away to Sri Lanka in September 2019.

The 33-year-old still wants to play at the highest level and won’t countenance retirement as long as he’s enjoying it and playing well.

“It’s funny as soon as you get to 30 everyone asks when you’re going to retire, but for me, with the injuries I had at the start of my career, I actually started quite late. I debuted for New Zealand at 29, so I would be considered a late bloomer.

“I still think as long as I’m offering something on the field and I’m performing well, I can’t see why I can’t keep going for another couple of years and maybe beyond that.”

Rance said he is continually working on different variations to his bowling and is developing an out-swinger to complement to his deadly in-swinger.

One area where Rance said he has not realised his potential is batting. A prolific scorer at club level, and a dangerous middle-order batsman in district representative cricket, Rance has a disappointing average of 9.29 with a best score of 41 not out.

“I started reasonably well, but as time as gone on the batting has certainly gone out the window a wee bit, and once you get tarnished with that brush of being a tailender, it’s almost impossible to get rid of it.

“I’ve only got myself to blame, I haven’t performed as I probably could have.

“I still put work in and try to do my best, and if I can win games for us in years to come, that would be a nice way to finish.”

Disappointingly for Rance, his 50th game finished in a five-wicket loss to Wellington. He scored two runs, failed to take a wicket, but ran out opener Lauchie Johns, in the third straight loss for the Stags.

Melissa Hansen

Thrown into the deep end
Melissa Hansen on the attack for the Central Hinds in this year’s T20 Super Smash.

Melissa Hansen made her one-day debut for the Central Hinds as a Wairarapa College student against the Canterbury Magicians at Fitzherbert Park, Palmerston North, in the 2013-14 season.

The then 17-year-old was thrown into the deep end, opening the batting and scoring 12 runs off 24 balls, and bowling three overs, taking one wicket for 10 runs, in the 25-run loss.

Since those early days, Hansen has dropped down the batting order and developed into a more-than-useful all-rounder, scoring valuable runs at the death, and often bowling in the middle-late overs.

After a lot of experimentation, Hansen said she has now found her right position in the team.

“Last season, personally, was probably my best season, in terms of batting in that middle-lower order and getting a few not outs, like 20-odd runs or so, and contributing with the ball in the middle overs and taking a few wickets and restricting their runs,” she said.

“My stats aren’t the best but in those few seasons I chopped and changed in various roles.”

The fortunes of the Central Hinds have also changed since Hansen first pulled on the green and gold strip, with the team transforming from easy-beats to 2018-19 national champions, winning the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield with victory over the Auckland Hearts in the final at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.

“In my early times with the team, we would lose quite heavily often, so winning the whole competition was quite special to us,” Hansen said.

“We ‘re all around that similar number of games and a similar age, and we’ve developed into quite a good team.”

The Hinds made a promising start to the 2020-21 season, easily winning their first three games, before slipping up against the Wellington Blaze at Donnelly Park, Levin on Sunday.

“We had a bit of a hiccup on Sunday, but we talked about it and said that it’s not often you go through every season unbeaten and end up in the final and winning it, and we’re not out of it by any stretch.”

“We’ve just got to back it up against Otago in a couple of weeks. We’ve got a good strong team, and we’re pretty confident.”

Hansen, who is Wairarapa Cricket’s female cricket manager, is especially proud of the impact of Wairarapa’s female players on the national scene. Fittingly, she was presented with her 50th game cap by former Wairarapa Koru Georgia Atkinson, who is now based in Palmerston North.

“Georgia spoke about how Wairarapa have got a good group of girls, and they’re moving up among the ranks and how she was one of them and although she’s playing for Manawatu now, she is still proud that she’s from Wairarapa and that she started out here.”

All-rounder Monique Rees, and captain Anlo van Deventer, a former St Matthew’s Collegiate student, are other Wairarapa players in the Hinds, and Kate Sims is in the Canterbury Magicians squad.

“For Kate to go down to Canterbury and get an opportunity is great, and you never know that in two or three years when she’s finished her degree, she may move back to the CD area and she will be that much better for having her time with Canterbury.”

After the Otago games, Hansen will focus on the T20 Super Smash over the Christmas-New Year period.

“Sometimes it’s like being a specialist fielder running around everywhere, but if you can get to bowl an over or two, you can change the game with a couple of wickets, or if you can come in in the lower order and get a quickfire 10 or 15.”

“T20 is lots of fun and a lot of the games are on TV as well this year, so it will be exciting for people to watch.”

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