Wairarapa women’s cricket is again punching above its weight, with five players picking up major association contracts for the 2023–24 season.
Stalwart Melissa Hansen is joined by allrounder Ocean Bartlett, New Zealand under-19 international Emma McLeod, and Georgia Atkinson in the Central Hinds squad, while wicketkeeper-batter Gemma Sims has signed with the Wellington Blaze, although she will still be available to play for the Wairarapa Korus.
Hansen, 27, and Atkinson, 23, both have extensive experience at national level, having played more than 50 List A and T20 games each. Bartlett is in her second contracted season, while McLeod, who starred at the Under 19 World Cup in South Africa with her aggressive batting and backed that up with a half-century on her List A debut for the Hinds last season, has scored her first professional cricket contract.
The four players give Wairarapa the highest representation in the Hinds, ahead of traditional powerhouses Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu, and that is an achievement to be proud of, said Hansen, who is Wairarapa Cricket’s female cricket manager.
“Looking at it from a work perspective, it’s good to see the development of the players, and hopefully, we’ve had an impact on their progression,” Hansen said.
“Only a few years ago, it was only me flying the flag and Anlo [van Deventer] a few years before that, so to have four of us in the Hinds and Gemma being contracted to the Blaze is quite cool, and before that, there has been Kate Sims who has played for Canterbury Magicians.
“That’s cool to see that we’re doing some things well, not just us, but them as players as well, and they’re working hard and putting in the extra effort, and it goes to show that from a little area, you can make it, and I know Seth [Rance] always talks about that making the Black Caps from Greytown.”
Hansen added that she and Korus coach Simon Roseingrave had calculated that 14 females from Wairarapa have played CD under 21s or 19s in the last few years.
“I spoke at our year seven and eight tournament last year about Emma and how it was only a few years ago, and Emma was playing as a little year seven or six, then all of a sudden, a few years down the track, she’s off in South Africa playing in a World Cup.
“You just never know as a year seven or eight, five years down the track, who they could become and what skill sets they have, and we just have to keep them in the game.”
Atkinson will realign with her home province on her return from playing in Ireland. The 23-year-old allrounder has represented Manawatu while studying at Massey University but will base herself in Wairarapa over the summer, which will be a massive boost for the Korus with her aggressive top-order batting and useful leg-spin bowling.
The Mike Shrimpton Trophy inter-district competition schedule also suits the Korus, with most of the games to be played when their Hinds will be available.
Hansen said that will help with availability with some of the team’s regular players from recent seasons not returning for the summer because of university commitments.
The Korus start their Shrimpton Trophy campaign with a home game against Hawke’s Bay on Sunday, November 12, while the Hinds start their season the following weekend with a doubleheader against the Magicians in Palmerston North.