Ocean Bartlett’s off spin bowling with be crucial to St Matthew’s chances. PHOTO/FILE
A strong St Matthew’s Collegiate team will head to the Gillette Venus Cup finals this week confident of success.
The Masterton college qualified for the finals by beating Sacred Heart College from New Plymouth and Palmerston North Girls’ High School in the Central Districts’ playoffs at Fitzherbert Park, Palmerston North in March.
It is the second consecutive year that Wairarapa has had a team at the finals, to be played at Lincoln south of Christchurch. Wairarapa College finished fifth last year.
The 12-strong St Matthew’s squad includes seven members of the Wairarapa Korus’ representative side.
Four of those players, Ocean Bartlett, Hattie Vincent, Kate Sims, and Gemma Sims, are in the Central Districts’ Under-19 team. Kate Sims has also played for the Central Hinds.
Another four players – Emma McLeod, Macy Lyford, Olivia Clark, and Elizabeth Cohr — are in the Central Districts’ Under-15 squad.
St Matthew’s are taking an impressive record into the tournament, having been unbeaten against girls’ teams since February 2018 when they lost to Waicol in the Gillette Venus Cup playoff.
Wairarapa Korus coach and Wairarapa cricket development manager Simon Roseingrave expected St Matthew’s to be very competitive at the three-day T20 tournament.
“They’ve got a tough start. It’s identical to Waicol last year. They play Christchurch Girls, Epsom Girls, and St Hilda’s in their first three games.”
“St Hilda’s won last year, and they have three or four Sparks players. Christchurch were runners-up and have some fringe Canterbury Magicians, and Epsom also have some players on the fringe of the Auckland Hearts.
“It should come down to those four teams and then it’s a matter of which team performs on the day.”
Roseingrave predicted St Matthew’s to be too good for Waikato Diocesan [Northern Districts] and Hutt Valley High School [Wellington] in their last two pool matches.
Roseingrave said a lot will depend on the three players leaving school this year, Vincent and the Sims sisters.
“Hattie and Kate are quite quick for this age group and their pace should trouble a lot of the batters. They’re also good bats, and along with Gemma will be the backbone of the batting.
“Ocean is also on the fringes of the Central Hinds and her batting and off spin bowling will be important to the team.
“There’s also a lot of talent with the younger players and I expect the team to do very well.”
St Matthew’s coach Tony Lyford said the strength of the team was the depth and the work ethic of the girls.
“It’s been about two years of hard work. The girls train extra hard, and we’ve been warming up by playing the boys’ Under-15 rep team and Rathkeale teams to get some tough games.
“We not going down to make up the numbers, we going to put our best foot forward and are going to give it a really good go.”
St Matthew’s start the competition on Friday morning against Christchurch Girls’ High School.
In the afternoon they will meet Auckland powerhouse Epsom Girls’ Grammar School.
On Saturday morning, they will face competition favourites St Hilda’s Collegiate from Dunedin, followed by Waikato Diocesan in the afternoon.
They will wrap up pool play on Sunday morning against Hutt Valley High School.
The top two teams will play in Sunday afternoon’s final, with other playoffs for third and fourth and fifth and sixth.
St Matthew’s team
Kate Sims [captain], Gemma Sims [wicketkeeper], Ocean Bartlett, Elizabeth Cohr, Emma McLeod, Hattie Vincent, Gracie Donaldson, Macy Lyford, Chichi Beck, Olivia Clark, Isabella Kennedy, Maisy Ballantyne.