The youngest member in the Wellington Blaze squad is excited about getting the chance to take on the table-topping Auckland Hearts this weekend to earn a place in next week’s Women’s domestic competition one-day final.
With a couple of other players including good friend and now White Fern regular Amelia Kerr having left school, Year 13 Queen Margaret College player Xara Jetly is the only current schoolgirl in the Blaze squad for this weekend’s must-win Hallyburton Johnstone Shield double round of 50 over matches.
“It is very exciting for me to get selected in the Blaze squad for this big round of matches,” said Xara. “In the last round I played against Canterbury at Karori Park and I got to bowl and bat, so this is a massive opportunity for me.”
Xara was first picked in the wider Blaze squad at the very start of this season as one of two training partners. “They just called me up and asked me to turn up to training and we will go from there. I went along and next thing I know I was asked to be 13th and 12th man for some of the Super Smash Twenty20 games.”
Xara, who is primarily an off-spin bowler, currently trains with the Blaze twice a week and also does individual sessions with Blaze coach Ivan Tissera.
She plays club cricket for North City, as well as for school Queen Margaret College and for the Wellington U18 and U21 representative teams in their respective national tournaments earlier in the summer.
This is only her fourth season playing outdoor cricket, after making the U15 reps in her first season aged 13.
She is also passionate about another form of cricket.
“My first form of the game I played was indoor cricket, which I started when I was 12 playing with my brother’s team and I love it.”
The Kerr family have had a big influence on her in indoor cricket.
“Robbie has helped me out and I have played with both Amelia and Jess in indoor cricket, and Amelia is one of my role models,” she says.
“I currently play indoor cricket for New Zealand and for Wellington and for fun.”
She played in the U18 Indoor Cricket World Cup last year. “We lost the final against Australia unfortunately. The tournament was supposed to be in Dubai, then South Africa, before finally being moved to Christchurch, so I still got to travel to play!”
In indoor cricket she tends to bat in the second half of the innings. “It is because I can handle pressure, I can just ignore what is happening around me and play my game.”
These mental skills will serve her well transferring to outdoor cricket in the future, along with another key skill of fielding. “I love fielding. Everyone asks if I am a batter or a bowler, but I am a fielder too.” She likes to stake her claim in the field in the cover to point zone.
Cricket isn’t the only sport that Xara plays.
“I play football, futsal, netball, badminton and also volleyball – I did everything last year.”
When the outdoor cricket season comes to a close she hopes to pick up some of those other sports once more. “I will also be training for indoor cricket as I made the New Zealand U21 training squad. There are camps coming up and games against Australia in September.”
With this weekend at the forefront of her mind, to qualify for the domestic cricket grand final, the Wellington Blaze (on 23 points) must realistically beat Auckland (34) twice in a row on Saturday and Sunday, and hope the Central Hinds (28) stumble at least once against fourth placed Otago (18)
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