“It’s a bloody good backyard,” Kate Chandler laughs when asked where her enthusiasm for cricket started.
The Year 11 at Wellington Girls’ College is one of the leading leg spinners in the capital. Her three older brothers Henry and twins Archie and William played in the Wellington College First XI.
Kate took up cricket when she was three. Playing with boys at Wellington College in Year 9 was a wakeup call.
“I was bowling pace and being smacked around by bigger, stronger players,” Kate rued.
“Henry and Archie bowl leg spin and gave me some pointers on how to do it. I took a couple of wickets the first time I bowled it in a competitive game and thought ‘I can do this.’”
Exceptional winter training soon caught the attention of Wellington Blaze selectors. Kate teamed up with Cricket Wellington coach Ivan Tissera and blossomed.
In December 2020 she took five wickets in a List A match for the Wellington Blaze against Canterbury. She was 14 years old.
Canterbury were 117 for 4 after 35 overs when Chandler sent back Lea Tahuhu, a national team regular. Her other victims were Kate Ebrahim, Laura Hughes, KM Sims and Gabby Sullivan. Chandler even returned a wicket-maiden and a double-wicket-maiden along the way.
“That was the first time in my life I’d taken five wickets so it was pretty special, one of those days where everything went to plan. Thamsyn Newton set awesome fields, the keeper was awesome. I didn’t turn it; the girls were just so good at supporting me.
“Ivan has taught me a whole lot, how to hold the ball, approach the run up, ironing out flaws in my technique. I’ve still got a lot to learn but I love getting out there and trying new things.”
Wellington Girls’ has a relatively new team in 2022 but are unbeaten after two rounds of the Premier I competition. Kate has an economy rate of less than three runs per over and has been retired twice while battering 40 off 20 balls against St Mary’s College and 35 from 23 against St Oran’s College.
She plays senior club cricket for Upper Hutt who are in the top four of both the Maureen Peters (T20) and Joy Lamason (one day) competitions.
The Wellington Blaze won 11 matches on the trot in sweeping the Super Smash championship this summer. Chandler didn’t feature in that series but very much represents a new breed of young cricketers increasing the quality and enthusiasm of the female game.
“A couple of international spinners replaced me so it was hard to find a spot. The Blaze are a well-oiled, professional operation. Everyone is made to feel included, but it’s competitive. When I got wickets I shared a Coke Zero with some of the younger girls which was pretty cool.”
The ICC Women’s World Cup starts in New Zealand on March 4. Kate is hopeful New Zealand can win the tournament for the first time since 2000.
“The World Cup is going to be unreal. New Zealand has some phenomenal cricketers like Sophie Devine, Amelia Kerr and Suzie Bates. If the girls put it together it’s going to be pretty special.”
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