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Defending champions Tawa College and five other schoolgirl cricket First XIs from around New Zealand descend on Palmerston North this week for the 2015 NZCT Secondary School Girls Finals.
The tournament runs from Tuesday to Thursday, with the six schools vying for the title having come through preliminary knock-out matches in their respective regions.
The six schools represented are Tawa College (Wellington), St Hilda's Collegiate (Otago), Havelock North High School (Central), Whangarei Girls' High School (Northern), Villa Maria College (Canterbury) and Epsom Girls’ Grammar School (Auckland).
The format is a round-robin series of Twenty20 matches, with two games each on Tuesday and Wednesday and one on Thursday.
Last year’s tournament was hampered by weather, with just three of the scheduled five matches available. Of the three schools returning this year, winners Tawa College won all three matches, second placed St Hilda’s won two and fourth placed Whangarei won once.
Tawa College’s coach, Robbie Kerr, said their team is looking forward to meeting the challenge of entering the tournament as defending champions, adding that there are a number of players returning from 2014.
“We have 10 players returning from last year, we have two year 9s, one year 10, two year 11s, four year 12s and three year 13s – so a good balance.”
They have qualified for this year’s tournament having won the Wellington NZCT tournament, beating Sacred Heart in the final.
Robbie said the opposition will all be hard to beat. “Everyone is dangerous in Twenty20 cricket. St Hilda’s and Havelock North High School have very proud records at this tournament over a number of years.”
Tawa College has a number of key players in their squad, including coach Robbie’s two daughters who are also in the Wellington senior women’s squad.
“Amelia Kerr has just turned 15 and was selected for the New Zealand A side following a very successful last season for the Wellington Blaze where she was the leading wicket taker in the competition.”
Amelia was named Most Valuable Player at this tournament last year as a Year 9 student.
“Jess Kerr is the captain and is a member of the Blaze cricket squad. During the winter she was named Player of the Tournament at the Junior Indoor Cricket U18 World Cup.
“Makaylah Mason Jones, Roshani Thurasingham and Phoenix Williams have all been named in the Wellington U 21 Women’s cricket team along with Jess and Amelia.
“Kate Fenton is a Year 9 student with a huge future and has been named in the Wellington Secondary Girls team.”
Robbie added that a number of the girls were part of the Tawa Intermediate team that won the New Zealand Shield for Intermediate Teams throughout New Zealand. “It was this tournament that got many girls interested in cricket. They have continued with the sport and are now looking to repeat their win from last year.”
The draw is:
Round One (Tuesday morning)
St Hilda’s Collegiate vs Havelock North High School
Tawa College vs Whangarei Girls’ High School
Villa Maria College vs Epsom Girls’ Grammar School
Round Two (Tuesday afternoon)
Havelock North High School vs Epsom Girls’ Grammar School
Whangarei Girls’ High School vs Villa Maria College
St Hilda’s Collegiate vs Tawa College
Round Three (Wednesday morning)
Havelock North High School vs Whangarei Girls’ High School
St Hilda’s Collegiate vs Epsom Girls’ Grammar School
Tawa College vs Villa Maria College
Round Four (Wednesday afternoon)
Tawa College vs Havelock North High School
Villa Maria College vs St Hilda’s Collegiate
Epsom Girls’ Grammar School vs Whangarei Girls’ High School
Round Five (Thursday morning)
Villa Maria College vs Havelock North High School
Epsom Girls’ Grammar School vs Tawa College
Whangarei Girls’ High School vs St Hilda’s Collegiate