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Ocean’s making big waves

Ocean Bartlett bowling for the Wairarapa Under-15s last season. PHOTO/FILE


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Selection in the Central Hinds Under-21 team may have come as a shock to talented young leg-spinner Ocean Bartlett, but it was no surprise for those who have watched her play in recent seasons.

Bartlett – a Year 10 student at St Matthew’s Collegiate – has been named in a 12-strong squad for the national Under-21 Tournament in Auckland later this month.

There is a strong Wairarapa flavour to the team, with fellow Wairarapa players Georgia Atkinson, Monique Rees and sisters Kate and Gemma Sims also included.

Anlo van Deventer, a former St Matthew’s Collegiate student who now resides in Auckland and plays for the Hinds senior team, is assistant coach and manager of the team.

Bartlett spent the past two seasons playing for the Hinds’ Under-15 team, and was quick to admit a call-up to the Under-21s had caught her by surprise.

“It was a pretty big shock because I didn’t think I would be able to get into this team for a few years.

“It was exciting news – it’s an older team which is really cool.”

She had set her sights on making the Hinds’ Under-18 team early next year, but knew that if she pushed herself other opportunities might come up.

“Making the Under-21s is a pretty big surprise, but I just wanted to train as hard as I could and see what teams I could get into,” she said.

“My aim was pretty much the CD Under-18 team, which is named at the regional tournament in January.”

Bartlett will still be eligible for the Under-18 team when the time comes, but for now she can focus on honing her skills in a challenging environment.

She is no stranger to the big stage, having also represented the Wairarapa Korus senior women’s team in the Central Districts regional competition.

Talented leg-spinners are a rare commodity in New Zealand, and Bartlett’s skill-set sets her apart from plenty of other players of a similar age.

It is no fluke that she has ended up in this position, as a heap of hard work and dedication to the cause has seen her continue to push her game to the next level.

“There are not many girls in New Zealand who bowl leg-spin,” she said.

“I started trying to bowl it and started getting a bit better at it, and I had coaching from Ivan [Tissera], who is [White Fern] Amelia Kerr’s coach.”

Kerr, who turned 18 on October 13, is another talented young leg-spinner who has been making waves in the international women’s game over the past couple of seasons.

In June, the then 17-year-old made the highest score in a women’s one-day international match when she smashed 232 not out against Ireland, in the process becoming the youngest player, male or female, to score a double century in limited overs cricket.

To top it off, she took five wickets for a miserly 17 runs when it was New Zealand’s turn to bowl.

When it comes to players to look up to and mould a leg-spinner’s game around, Kerr is certainly a decent option.

Bartlett was thrilled to have some of her Korus teammates named in the team alongside her, and said playing in that environment had helped prepare her for this sort of occasion.

“It’s pretty good to play for the Korus – some of the people we play against are the next White Ferns and some are past White Ferns, so it’s good to see what the level is like.”

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