The National Secondary Schools First XI cricket finals will be held in Palmerston North in December. Six teams compete in 50-aside matches over five days to crown New Zealand’s top cricket school. Palmerston North Boys’ High School is one of the teams present at the 2017 edition of the tourney.
Coach: Scott Davidson
Manager: Jack Siebert
Full Squad: Ben O’Connor – Captain; Thomas Walshe; Tom Tremain; Caleb Hansen; Bryn Wilson; Rishabh De; Ruben Love; James Stratton; Sam Russell; Cameron Harridge; Finn Martin; Jack Harris.
Note: Six players return from last year’s team. There are seven year 13’s and 5 year 12’s.
Leading Run Scorer: Caleb Hansen
Leading Wicket Taker: Ben O’Connor
Palmerston North play in the Manawatu Cricket Association Mens’ Premier 1 Division. They finished top of the table in the 50 over competition in 2016 and narrowly lost in the final. They finished the two-day competition mid-table this year and struggled in the T20. Additionally Palmerston North play a series of annual traditional exchanges and rate their home victory over Wellington’s, St Patrick’s College, Silverstream as a highlight.
Palmerston North’s pathway to Nationals involved knockout games against Horowhenua College and Rathkeale College which led to a Central Districts (CD) Quad where they beat Wanganui Collegiate and Nelson College to qualify for Nationals.
James Stratton, Ruben Love and Bryn Wilson are in the First XV rugby team. Tom Tremain, Thomas Walshe, Caleb Hansen and Ben O’Connor are in the First XI hockey squad.
Ross Taylor, George Worker and Adam Milne are all present Black Caps from the school. Dane Cleaver, Mitch Renwick, Bevan Small and Navin Patel are all playing for Central Districts. In the recent Chapple Cup, nine Palmerston North boys were in the Manawatu Team.
The wrath of Rachin Ravindra struck Wellington College again in the First XI Premier Youth cricket final on Saturday.
For the second consecutive year the gun batsman blasted a century (118) as Hutt International Boys’ School (HIBS) beat Wellington College by 158 runs to win through to National finals for the fourth time.
In the corresponding fixture last year, Ravindra smacked 112 off 111 balls as HIBS foiled the same opposition.
“It’s nice to succeed again, but it was a team effort. Wellington had some good bowlers and we had to work hard to get a good score and then bowl them out,” Ravindra modestly observers.
The final was originally scheduled to be staged in April, but inclement weather forced that meeting to be postponed. The Ngatitoa Domain was a makeshift venue with an artificial pitch due to a shortage of grounds
“The ball bounces like a tennis ball so it’s a little different than normal, but at the end of the day it’s still cricket.” Ravindra replied when quizzed on the challenge of batting on an unusual surface.
HIBS may face an even greater challenge than pitches at Nationals. It’s highly likely Ravindra will be absent from the 2015 champions roster because of a clash with the National Under-19 tournament.
The Under-19 tourney is due to be held at Lincoln University near Christchurch between December 4-12 and is the last warm-up before the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand in January. The school Nationals are being held at Fitzherbert Park, Palmerston North from December 4-8. Ravindra is a long-time Wellington representative. Which event will he play?
“It’s up to New Zealand cricket if I play for HIBS or for Wellington. I would like to play for both, but that might not be possible,” Ravindra responded.
HIBS could also lose Brett McBride and Jesse Tashkoff to the Wellington Under-19’s. Who will replace them?
“I’m not sure, but we have a strong squad and faith in everyone to perform,” Ravindra answered.
Which of the six schools would take the biggest hit?
“I expect all the teams to be strong anyway. The Nationals is always a competitive tournament,” Ravindra observes.
Ravindra’s shoulder is stronger than what it has been in the last 12 months. Twice Ravindra dislocated his shoulder forcing him to have surgery in the off-season. He was consigned to a sling for six weeks.
Ravindra has played 93 matches for HIBS and made 2730 runs at an average of 35.90. With the ball he has taken 173 wickets at 11.20.
Ravindra has played 10 matches previously for the New Zealand Under-19’s. He has taken 15 wickets at 23.80 and achieved a highest score of 77 against Pakistan in January 2016.
The Under-19 World Cup is scheduled to be held in New Zealand from 13 January to 3 February 2018. New Zealand tackles defending champions West Indies in the opening match at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui. Kenya and South Africa are the other countries grouped in the baby blacks pool.
“I have played for New Zealand before, and I hope to play again, but I am taking nothing for granted,” Ravindra concludes.
“We had shot, but I didn’t think we could win it,” admits Jack Parker, captain of the New Plymouth Boys’ High School Junior cricket team that won the National Junior title in Palmerston North last week.
It’s the first National cricket title won by the school and New Plymouth was unique because of their four-pronged spin attack of Jason McGrath, Liam Carr, Ethan Dower and Sebastian Lauderdale-Smith.
“We were really well prepared. We started training last year and had whiteboard sessions designed to help us understand how to get different batsmen out.” Parker reveals.
In slow Manawatu conditions, New Plymouth’s thorough planning reaped rich rewards. On the fifth and final day of the tourney, New Plymouth faced St Bede’s College with Hamilton Boys’ High School meeting Auckland Grammar School. If both teams won then the tournament winner was be judged on best net run rate as the New Plymouth v Hamilton match was washed out.
St. Bede’s were bowled out for 45 with Jason McGrath taking 6-22, and Jack Parker chiming in with 2-10. New Plymouth then made a mockery of the target, hitting the winning runs in just 6.1 overs as Sebastian Lauderdale-Smith raced through to 24 not out.
New Plymouth batted strongly in reaching 180 in 40 overs to beat Wellington College by 26 runs on Day One, but their bowling was the major source of stress for opponents.
On Day Two, King’s High School was skittled out for 70 as Ethan Dower took 5-14 and Jason McGrath 3-7 from eight overs.
A valuable lesson was learnt in the chase.
“I think we believed we had it won and got complacent. We lost too many wickets early and had to battle to win by two wickets.” Parker concedes.
Batting first on the same pitch against Auckland Grammar School, New Plymouth learned their lesson, making 174-9 off their 40 overs. Parker led from the front top scoring with 49.
New Plymouth pressured Grammar from the outset of their chase and Grammar faltered losing four wickets inside the first 15 overs as they fell 56 runs short. Dower was again the pick of the bowlers, taking 3-21.
“I am the type of captain who seeks guidance from others. This was a team effort. I think the future of cricket at this school is in good shape because a few of us are in the First XI already.” Parker enthuses.
“I would like to thank our coach Ben Sapwell-West. He is real positive. We run singles hard, back each other up in the field and try and enjoy each other’s company.” Parker concludes.
From sixth in Super 8 to top six in New Zealand. In less than three months the reversal of form by the Tauranga Boys’ College First XI cricket team has been nothing short of remarkable. Captain Mikaere Leef is at a loss to explain his teams’ revival.
“It’s pretty interesting. I have always thought we had a team that was capable of winning Super 8, but we didn’t play well. I guess there’s been a huge attitude change. We had to harden up.” Leef theorises.
It’s the first time since 2011 Tauranga have qualified for Nationals and to accomplish that feat they had to win four matches on the trot against stiff opposition in the Northern Districts qualifiers in Hamilton.
In the first game Whangarei Boys’ High School won the toss and elected to bat on an artificial wicket but were shot out for 46. Rhys Mischewski took a wicket with the first ball of the tournament and stole the show with 6/12. He was well backed up by Finn Sears who took 2/7 off six overs and Ben Pomare who took four catches. Leef also took a great catch at gully and Scott Ellerington’s pinpoint boundary throw accounted for the last batsman. Tauranga chased down the target with 38 overs to spare.
In the second game Hillcrest High School asked Tauranga to bat first and Tauranga responded with 232/6 in a match reduced to 45 overs. Leef top-scored with 67 and then took three wickets as Tauranga achieved a crushing 156-run victory. Mischewski was to the fore again with 3/5 off six overs.
“Our fielding was a big part of our success. We really lifted our intensity and accuracy there, took our catches and put a lot of pressure on the batsmen.” Leef believes.
St. Paul’s Collegiate upset Hamilton Boys’ High School and had beaten Tauranga in their previous outing meaning they presented a tough assignment at home. Tauranga produced their best performance of the season to achieve a surprise win.
Leef finally won a toss and decided to bat first. Tauranga posted a reasonable 217 with Marcel Collett again top scoring with 63, adding 50 for the first wicket with Leaf (20) and 84 with Dominic Crombie (46). St Paul’s was bundled out for 161. Tas Carsons (whose brother Paddy was a rep cricketer at Hamilton BHS) took 3/29 off ten overs and removed a key batsman with an excellent boundary catch. He was well supported by Iman Singh who dried up the runs with 2/21 off 10 overs. St Paul’s at one stage were 95/4 but collapsed to 126/9 and a last wicket partnership of 35 was of little consequence.
The weather was consequential in the final fixture against Hamilton Boys’ High School. Typically foggy conditions made batting tough, but at least initially Tauranga started well adding 72 for the first wicket with Finn Sears belting 51. However Tauranga staggered and limped 189 off 50 overs.
Hamilton needed to make the target in 42 overs due to run rate considerations to eliminate Tauranga and qualify for a sixth consecutive Nationals. Hamilton started slowly, but responsibly to reach 47-1 after 17 overs at the drinks break. What happened next was dramatic.
“A Marcel Collett direct hit run out the Hamilton opener short of his ground. It was a great bit of fielding and triggered a collapse.” Leef recalls.
After 25 overs Hamilton was suddenly 68/6. Craig Baldry finished his spell with 2/30 from 10 overs and run outs by Leef and Collett had Hamilton on the ropes, a position from which they never recovered. Another run out by Mascall and 2/6 by Brad Howard wrapped up the match for Tauranga.
Leef regards himself as a batsman who “bowls a little pace or off spin. His highest score is 116 against Aquinas College and he has taken “a couple of four wicket bags.” He was a member of the Bay Coastland Under-19 team that won the Northern Districts regional competition in 2015/16.
In the winter he plays rugby and basketball. In September the First XI will make an historic tour to South Africa for three weeks, ideal preparation for Nationals in September when Tauranga will be looking to win their second National title. The last was in 2005 when New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was part of the squad. He was player of the tournament the next year.
In 2013 there were only four cricket teams at Rosmini College. Today there are 14, which bucks the trend of falling participation numbers nationwide. Zakk Finlay attempts to explain why.
“We had a change of headmaster a couple of years ago and there was more support for the sport. There are a lot of great volunteers who love the game helping out and that’s created a whole lot of interest,” he says.
Almost the entire Rosmini First XI has been together for four years and recently in the Auckland Super 8 final they sent the city’s cricketing fraternity into a tailspin by defeating St. Kentigern College to earn a place at the National Finals in Christchurch in December.
“It was great to knock them off their pedestal. They had a lot of pressure on them to win because they are a big school and we’re just a team of battlers. They pumped us the first time we played them. We were bowled out for 96.” Finlay acclaims.
Typically Finlay is a pace bowler but a stress fracture has prevented him from bowling for eight months. He has been forced to improve his batting. His highest score for the First XI is 89, but a score half that tally proved vitally important for Rosmini in the Auckland decider.
Rosmini did well to dismiss St. Kentigern for 159 at the Eden Park Outer Oval. Auckland Under-17 rep Ryan Harrison claimed 3/11 off 6.2 overs and opening bowlers Giles La Ville and Niko Weerakoon both took two wickets. Weerakoon had taken four wickets in the semi-final win against Westlake Boys’ High School.
Rosmini’s chase for 160 faulted from the outset and at one stage they were 39/4.
“I didn’t expect all the recognised batsman to get out early so it was tough initially. I was dropped in the gully on 15, but I knew as one of the better batters I had to be responsible, but try and score at the same time.” Finlay recalls.
Rosmini was 30 short of the target when Finlay reached 44. What happened next?
“I thought we could win by the 38th over when we were about 50 runs short. That was a manageable run rate. After 116 balls I got a bit carried away and tried to hit a six, usually I like to get on with it, but I held out at the wrong time. It was pretty stupid,” Finlay rues.
Fortunately the tail kept their composure and La Ville hit the winning runs as Rosmini won the R H Marryatt Cup for the first time, an achievement Director of cricket Amita Weerakoon, who is leaving the role after four years, described as “the greatest day of Rosmini cricketing history”.
Rosmini’s first XI have been coached by Hamish Buxton and Paul Brajkovich during their breakout season and join Otago BHS, Tauranga BC and Palmerston North BHS as having so far qualified for the six-team National finals.
In the winter Finlay is a fullback in the First XV. Rosmini are seven times North Harbour champions and Finlay believes under the coaching of old boys George Stowers and Wayne Rooney, Rosmini will have a decent tilt at the title again.
“As usual we’re not the biggest team, but we’re really fit. Our season starts in three weeks against Birkenhead College. I am confident we will do well.”
Finlay says his favourite moment in rugby was when Rosmini beat Westlake Boys’ on Land Rover First XV rugby last year. Taine Waitte, now with the North Shore club, kicked all five penalties in an upset triumph against the eventual North Harbour champions.
“I wouldn’t know what it was like to bat on, I only faced two balls,” Ben O’ Connor from the Palmerston North Boys’ High School First XI cricket team laughs.
Last week the perennial contenders confirmed their place at the National finals in Christchurch in December by bowling Nelson College out for 56 in the Central Districts Regional final.
Dire weather turned the Manawaroa Park pitch into a formidable assignment for batsmen.
“We were all out for 124 in the 49th over. The weather definitely helped the seamers, but it wasn’t so much the pitch was impossible to bat on, we just put the ball in good places and the fieldsmen backed it up,” captain O’Connor recalls.
Jack Harris, Bryn Wilson and off spinner O’Connor each sneered two wickets in the 68-run victory, a definite highlight of the season.
“The standard of the local competition has been really high. Black Cap Adam Milne has played a couple of games returning from injury. Every side has been competitive,” O’Connor (on strike/Photo Supplied) says.
O’Connor has managed two, five wicket bags this season. His decision to abort pace has been a fruitful one for the Manawatu age group rep.
“I used to bowl pace, but I found it difficult running in all the time. I started bowling spin a few years ago and found myself enjoying it and having a bit of a success.” O’Connor explains.
Slowing things down is a virtue that O’Connor is learning as captain. Palmerston North lost a thrilling Super 8 final to Hamilton Boys’ High School in January when Hamilton’s final pair shared a last wicket stand of 27 runs in a low scoring affair.
“The Super 8 final was a great game of cricket and we were gutted to lose. As a captain I learned I needed to slow the game down more and not panic in my decision making to get a better result,” O’Connor reflects.
Palmerston North will be hoping to make the right decisions in December. They will be joined at Nationals by Otago Boys’ High School, Rosmini College, who upset St. Kentigern College in the Auckland decider, either one of Hutt International Boys’ School or Wellington College and the winners of Canterbury section to be determined last this year.
“We don’t play any of those schools during the season so I don’t really know what their strengths and weakness are, but I am confident we have a well balanced team and if we play well it should be pretty wide open.” O’Connor anticipates.
In the winter O’Connor plays First XI hockey. Palmerston North are the defending India Shield Champions. They missed the Rankin Cup finals by a solitary goal, despite winning six out of seven games.
“We also lost the Super 8 final which we won the year before. Our goal is to definitely make Rankin this year and win Super 8.” O’Connor concludes.
Junior players from six of New Zealand’s leading cricketing schools converge on Palmerston North this week for the 2017 National Junior Secondary School Boys’ Finals.
The Tournament will feature the top year 9 and 10 cricketers from around the country and played in a round robin format over five days from Monday-Friday, with two points given for each win. Then at the end of the five days the winner will be the team with the most points and best record.
Auckland Grammar School are the defending champions, having broken the stranglehold that South Island Schools had on the title for the previous five years.
Last year Auckland Grammar ended Christchurch Boys high school’s two-year stranglehold on the title, while Otago Boys’ High School won the previous two years. If a South Island champion in found, it will be a new school however, with both CBHS and OBHS failing to qualify this year. Meanwhile, Wellington College will hope to finally get a win on the board for a Wellington team, as in the 13 years that this tournament has run it hasn’t ever been won by a school from Wellington. Schools representing home province Central Districts or Northern Districts haven’t won for almost a decade.
The Tournament will be played across two grounds in Palmerston North - Fitzherbert Park and Manawaroa Park.
2016: Auckland Grammar School
2015: Christchurch Boys High School
2014: Christchurch Boys High School
2013: Otago Boys High School
2012: Otago Boys High School
2011: Christchurch Boys High School
2010: Auckland Grammar
2009: King’s College (Auckland)
2008: Palmerston North Boys High School
2007: Hamilton Boys High School and Otago Boys High School
2006: Tauranga Boys College
2005: Christchurch Boys High School and Auckland Grammar School
2004: Christchurch Boys High School
The six schools competing this year are:
Auckland Grammar School (Auckland)
Hamilton Boys’ High School (Northern Districts)
New Plymouth Boys’ High School (Central Districts)
Wellington College (Wellington)
St Bede’s College (Canterbury)
Kings High School (Otago)
2017 Draw and predictions:
Hamish Wareham at Wareham Sports Media has cast his CLICK HERE to read.
Special credit to Hamish Wareham for his articles and coverage of youth cricket!
Otago Boys' High School's 1st XI will once again represent Otago and Southland in the national secondary schoolboys' cricket tournament, the First XI Cup, in December.
OBHS had a convincing win over John McGlashan College in the regional final yesterday with batsman/wicket-keeper Max Chu scoring an impressive 121 to help lead his team to victory.
On paper, OBHS had the stronger team, sporting two NZ Under 18 representatives in Chu and spinner Ben Lockrose, with another NZ U18 rep, all-rounder Hunter Kindley, still sidelined after breaking his ankle in the final of the Under 19 National Tournament in December.
Cricket’s a funny game though and the OBHS team were taking nothing for granted, after John McGlashan beat Waitaki Boys’ High School in a semi-final the day before.
In the end however, it was a reasonably comprehensive win by OBHS with the team making 271/6 and dismissing John McGlashan for 147, despite an early onslaught by JMC, which saw it well ahead in the run-rate early on.
Buoyed by team-mate Jack Pryde’s century (110) a day earlier in OBHS’ semi-final against Southland Boys’ High School, Max Chu steadied the ship for the school after the loss of two early wickets. Tommy Wilson (27), Marc Cormack (33) and Tim Horton (55) all starring in partnerships with Chu.
McGlashan’s in-form batsman, Lucas Reid, who scored a century (105) the day before had another good day with the bat, taking the game to OBHS in the early stages to see his team well ahead in the run-rate.
However, when he was dismissed for 40 off a caught-and-bowled by Thomas Harding, it triggered a series of wickets. Lockrose starred with the ball for OBHS, taking four wickets for only 12 runs in his 10 overs. Harding (2/32) and Josh Kellett (2/21) were the other top wicket-takers.
Otago Boys’ will this year be looking to improve on its third placing in last year’s First XI Cup with the return of a strong crew in Kindley, Chu, Lockrose, Pryde and Horton from last year.
Southland Boys’ High School finished in third place in the regional competition, beating Waitaki Boys’ High School, with Southland spinner Jack Mockford taking six wickets.
Prior to this week Hamish Thomson’s highest score for the St. Pats Town First XI cricket team was 45. The Year 13 had been plagued by an elbow injury and inconsistency.
“I missed five weeks at the start of this season when I injured my elbow. I have struggled with consistency because I am impatient. I like to get on with it, but I was taking too many risks before getting my eye in,” Thomson complains.
This week in the annual traditional fixture against Christchurch’s St. Bede’s College at Kilbirnie Park, Thomson shattered the record books by making a double century in the first innings and a century in the second innings. How does Thomson explain such sudden and spectacular success?
“My highest score before St. Bede’s was 150 not out in Year 9 so I knew I was capable of making big scores. The first 30 runs I made were off 100 balls then my confidence grew and I really accelerated,” Thomson explains.
Thomson (right in picture) ended the first innings 201 not out from only 207 deliveries. He struck 20 fours and 15 sixes and shared a partnership of 320 for the fifth wicket with Aaron De Rose who scored 122 off 141 balls. St. Pats was 88 for 4.
“Our top order batsmen were unlucky as they all got peaches of balls. Aaron was great to bat with. We’re close mates and built a good partnership quickly,” Thomson says.
St. Bede’s was able to respond strongly amassing 453 all out in 100 overs. Will Aynsley 98, Jimmy Johnstone 85, Matthew Boyle 72 and Cameron Jopson 69 all flourished on the friendly batting surface. St. Bede’s blasted a total of 12 sixes in their innings leaving Town facing a second innings deficit.
In their second innings Town at one stage was 41 for 3 and still in arrears by four runs, leaving open the possibility of a St. Bede’s victory, but Thomson has other ideas. He smashed 105 off 156 balls clubbing 14 fours and five sixes. Which innings was better?
“The second innings hundred was more important because it saved the match, but technically I played better in the first innings. In the second innings I was dropped on 48, which was lucky,” Thomson reveals.
There were a total of 41 sixes in the match. An unusually short boundary was a factor as was a brazen mindset from Thomson.
“The boundary in one direction was just over 30-metres so I targeted that area often. Actually I told the groundsman to reduce the size of the boundaries beforehand,” Thomson laughs.
Thomson rates a reverse sweep over point as his favourite maximum of the match and is hopeful Town’s retention of the Dry Family Cup can kick start some momentum for Town’s season. Presently Town are fifth out of eight teams in the Wellington Premier competition, one place short of a semi-final spot.
“It’s been a tough season so far. We have had a few disruptions with injuries and other things, but we are starting to get it together and are feeling good after a tough draw this week,” Thomson concludes.
P.S. Double centuries are rare events in first XI school cricket, but St. Bede’s have been victims of a double hundred twice. In 2011 Henry Walsh made 225 for St. Pats Silverstream against St. Bede’s. Walsh later played for the Wellington Firebirds. Some impressive names have scored double centuries in the past.
The Auckland record is thought to be held by Bert Sutcliffe, the outstanding batsman of his time in New Zealand, who scored 268 for Takapuna Grammar against Mt Albert Grammar in 1942.
Martin Crowe, another who went on to become a world-class batsman, established an Auckland Grammar School record when making 247 in 1978, while Sachin Variath scored 261 not out for Avondale College against Macleans College in Auckland in 2010.
Former Firebird Joe Austin-Smellie scored a record 214 not out for Wellington College in the traditional fixture against Wanganui Collegiate in 2006.
The highest score ever made by a schoolboy is 628 by AEJ Collins, as a 13-year-old, in England in 1899.
Tawa College year 12 Melie Kerr will soon have good reason to be absent from school.
Melie is in the WHITE FERNS squad that is about to play a series of six games against Australia, three Twenty20s over the Tasman starting tomorrow and three ODIs coming up in New Zealand.
Melie explained her involvement. “I’m not selected for the three Twenty20s over there, but I meet up with the team next Thursday for the one-dayers that are in Auckland [26 February] and Tauranga [2 and 5 March].
“It’s going to be exciting to play the team that is considered the best in the world.”
It will be the first time she’s played against most of the Australians. “In my first season with the Blaze when I was 14 I played Elyse Villani when she played for Northern Districts, but no one else.”
“But I was watching a bit of the Big Bash and the T20 games will be on TV so I can watch those and do a bit of scouting.”
Melie has been selected for New Zealand as a leg-spinner and lower order bat. In her four previous ODI internationals against Pakistan she wasn’t required to bat at all. But it’s with the blade where she’s been in hot form of late.
Earlier this month she scored 119 for Wellington, which was the 100th century scored in the women’s domestic One-Day competition - she bet Sara McGlashan to it by 14 minutes. She also became the youngest ever centurion in the competition – a tick over two years younger than Suzie Bates was when she scored 183 not out against Auckland when she was 18.
“At the moment I’m in the New Zealand squad as a bowler, but at every other level I’m considered an all-rounder as well. At the start of the [Wellington] Blaze season I was batting about seven and then I worked my up to be opening.
“It is my goal to become an all-rounder at the top level too. In a few years when I am bit bigger and stronger and I keep developing my batting I will be both.”
She followed her century up for Wellington by scoring 110 for the Tawa College First XI against the Wellington College 2nd XI in the Premier College Grade.
What’s it like playing against the boys?
“It’s really good practice for me, each week’s a good challenge!
“With the pace bowlers, each team has one quick bowler. Lea Tahuhu [WHITE FERNS bowler] is probably the same pace as the quickest bowlers in Premier 1. So it is really good practice getting to face bowlers that will challenge me, so that if I do bat at the end of an international cricket match and they bring their fast bowlers on I will be used to it.”
Was her call-up to play Pakistan late last year a surprise?
“No, I didn’t think it would happen this soon. When I was young I had a goal of making the WHITE FERNS when I was about 18. Then last year I had a goal of making the side for the Women’s World Cup later this year [June and July in England].
“I wasn’t really expecting the phone call but when I did I was pretty happy. But I had a big winter and worked really hard and thought that I felt ready. I didn’t feel like I was too young to be playing in the series against Pakistan.”
What was most memorable about her debut series?
“Making my debut was pretty special; I’m never going to get to do that again. But I think the last ODI in Nelson where I got four wickets [4 for 42] and three catches and also the T20 I played in were probably my two favourite games of the series.”
Melie had previously represented New Zealand in indoor cricket. “In year 9 when I had just turned 14 I had played in the U20 indoor cricket world cup and in the year after that the U18 world cup.”
In 2015 she played a series for the New Zealand A team against Sri Lanka A.
The granddaughter of former Black Caps Test opener Bruce Murray, who passed 50 on 49 occasions in 187 first-class innings, Melie comes from a cricketing family.
“My older sister Jess always wanted to be playing sport when she was three or four. But I wasn’t really interested at that age. Then when I was about five or six I joined a team at my club in Tawa with all my friends. There was me, one other girl and lots of boys and I started that way.
“I remember going up to Hastings every January for cricket camp and all my family was there as well, so that is probably one of my favourite cricket tournaments that I played in from about aged seven to 12.”
They say bowling leg-spin is the hardest art in cricket. Melie explained how she started.
“I used to bowl medium pace when I was little. Then one day I was just in the cul de sac outside our house with dad mucking around trying to bowl off-spin and leg-spin and dad said to me that the leggies are coming out quite naturally and said that I should keep practising it.”
Melie was introduced to Cricket Wellington representative coach and Wellington College first XI coach Ivan Tissera, who has been mentoring her for the past several years.
With the help of Ivan and others she’s still developing her bowling craft, including working on a googly which she hopes to add to her variation.
As well as family, another obvious role model is WHITE FERNS all-rounder Sophie Devine, also from Tawa College and who played for Wellington at a young age before going on to play for New Zealand.
Melie used to play other sports, but naturally all her time is taken up with cricket now.
“When I was younger I used to play lots of other sports, because they were all in school time. I used to do running and play football. But I stopped running a few years ago and stopped football in year 11.”
Currently, she’s got up to five quality skills and training sessions and then two strength sessions at the gym a week, plus playing, plus attending school during the week.
If selected in the playing XI in any of the upcoming ODIs, Melie will be the second youngest New Zealand cricketer, male or female, to play internationals against Australia, after current New Zealand Cricket President Debbie Hockley.
Melie, who made her international debut last November against Pakistan aged 16 years and 27 days, is the second youngest New Zealander to debut against any team after Auckland’s Munokoa Tunupopo who played for the WHITE FERNS against England in 2000 a week before turning 16. Hockley, who scored over 4,000 international runs, was 16 years and 80 days when she first played Australia nearly 40 years ago.
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