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Blaze eye unprecedented unbeaten season

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Spotlight Reporting Wellington Blaze will be aiming to become the first team in New Zealand women’s domestic cricket history to go an entire season unbeaten when they face the Otago Sparks in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Grand Final tomorrow.

No domestic women’s side has ever gone through both the domestic one-day and T20 competitions unbeaten since the women’s T20 competition was introduced in 2007.

The Blaze won all 11 of their Dream11 Super Smash matches on the way to lifting the title last month and are currently unbeaten in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield with five wins and five abandoned matches.

Blaze head coach Lance Dry said his side were well aware of the history they have the opportunity to write.

"Completing a season unbeaten and winning both domestic trophies would be an incredible achievement and one that is clearly very difficult to do," he said.

"To achieve something like this takes consistency and a high set of standards from everyone involved in the team for a long period of time, so we’re very proud to now have the opportunity to go and make that little piece of history.

"Otago are a good side and have proven that by also making both finals. We’ll take confidence from our win against them a couple of weeks ago, but this is a final so form goes out of the window, and it can be anyone’s on the day.

"We know that we’re going to have to bring the standards that we’ve been setting all season one more time on Sunday to achieve what we set out to achieve at the start of the season."

The Blaze will become just the fourth team to complete the women’s domestic double if they can add the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield to their Dream11 Super Smash success - only the Canterbury Magicians have achieved the feat, clinching the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield and the T20 competition last summer, as well as in the 2007/08 and 2010/11 seasons.

Dry has been forced to make two changes to his squad from the one that beat the Sparks two weeks ago.

Batter Georgia Plimmer is unavailable after being called into the WHITE FERNS squad to replace the injured Lauren Down for the World Cup. Fellow WHITE FERN Leigh Kasperek has also been ruled out due to a finger injury sustained during training. Hutt District batter Olivia Boivin and Wellington Collegians batter Florence Marshall come into the side.

The Blaze will however be able to draw on WHITE FERNS contracted duo Thamsyn Newton and Jess McFadyen.

McFadyen has been a consistent performer in the competition for several years. The wicketkeeper-batter is the Blaze’s second leading run-scorer in this year’s competition and has topped their one-day run-scoring charts in the previous two seasons and has averaged over 45 in each of the last three seasons.

The Blaze can also draw on a young group of future stars who have already made a big impact on this year’s competition. New Zealand Under 19 international Tash Codyre and leg-spinner Xara Jetly have had breakthrough summers in both formats and will be key with the ball, while 16-year-old Kate Chandler will make her eighth List-A appearance.

Leg-spinner Deanna Doughty will lead the side - Maddy Green, Melie Kerr, Sophie Devine and Jess Kerr are unavailable due to WHITE FERNS World Cup commitments.

The Blaze haven’t lost to the Sparks in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield since November 2018, representing a run of six straight victories over tomorrow’s opponents.

Play gets underway from 10:30am at John Davies Oval in Queenstown. Play will be live streamed on New Zealand Cricket’s YouTube channel.

Wellington Blaze squad | Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Grand Final | v Otago Sparks

Deanna Doughty (Hutt District)

Olivia Boivin (Hutt District)

Rebecca Burns (Hutt District)

Kate Chandler (Upper Hutt United)

Natasha Codyre (Upper Hutt United)

Xara Jetly (North City)

Caitlin King (Petone-Riverside)

Florence Marshall (Wellington Collegians)

Jess McFadyen (Johnsonville)

Beth Molony (Wellington Collegians)

Thamsyn Newton (Johnsonville)

Maneka Singh (Johnsonville)

Hallyburton Johnstone Shield

Grand Final

Sunday 27 February 2022, 10:30am

Wellington Blaze v Otago Sparks

John Davies Oval, Queenstown

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