Cousins' callup beats ODI

Cricketers Tayla Brown, left, Courtney Brown and Claudia Green.
Cricketers Tayla Brown, left, Courtney Brown and Claudia Green.

If ever there was a good toss to lose then three young Nelson cricketers have done so.

The avid cricket fans are missing the chance to see their heroes in action at tomorrow's Black Caps one-day international at Saxton Oval. The pay off? They will be playing representative age group cricket for Canterbury.

"We really wanted to go, and it is obviously disappointing. But I'd rather be playing than watching," said Tayla Brown, who captains the Nelson Women's team.

The three schoolgirl cricketers - Tayla, her twin sister, Courtney, and cousin Claudia Green - were travelling today to play in the Whanganui cricket festival.

Last season, the girls were picked out by Dilan Raj, a cricket development officer in the Central Districts region. After a training and coaching session, the cousins were asked to trial for the Whanganui women's team. Unfortunately a clash with school exams bowled those plans.

Arrangements were then made to have the trio play for the Whanganui age-grade team at the Whanganui cricket festival. Yet the game plan changed again while the girls were playing in the Canterbury regional tournament for secondary school players.

The wider Nelson cricket community pitched in to help get a group of Nelson female cricket players down to the tournament in mid-December.

Along with Nelson Cricket's support, Queen Street Sprig & Fern fundraised and the Car Company supplied the van and trailer for the trip.

The Nelson and Otago combined team had some close losses, but the cousins only enhanced their standing. Raj and the Canterbury under-17 girls' cricket coach cooked up a scheme to have the Nelson girls play for the Canterbury selection.

"In the bigger picture, it doesn't matter who you play for, it's basically about getting as many girls playing cricket as possible," said Warren Brown, dad, uncle and coach.

"That is the big thrust in New Zealand cricket.

"And these girls need to go outside of Nelson to play at the top level. I think they have the potential to go all the way."

All the way, means world class in New Zealand. White Ferns cricketer Suzie Bates was recently acknowledged as the world's best, winning the ICC's women's one day player of the year.

Like Bates, Claudia is an all-rounder who opens the bowling. Courtney is a strike bowler, and usually gets her pick of the ends, while Tayla is an opening batswoman, an accumulator of runs with the power to put the bad ball away.

As true cricket lovers, they know there is no substitute for time in the middle. And, after having already taken a rain check on one trip, even the Black Caps and West Indies couldn't keep them from seizing the latest chance.

"This is probably one of the better opportunities, because we get to play older girls who are probably at a higher level and hopefully that will help us play better," said Tayla.

"It shouldn't be too bad at all."