Auckland girls shine with unbeaten record at Cricket Express Nationals
The future of women's cricket in Auckland looks to be in fine shape.
The Auckland U15 Hearts returned from the Cricket Express Nationals in Whanganui last week with an unblemished record, picking up six wins from six games.
"We didn't go in as the team to beat, but a team that had a good chance to win," Auckland's manager Khusboo Patel said.
"The main thing we wanted was to go in and beat Central Districts."
And they did just that, trumping last year's champions and tournament favourites with an impressive seven-wicket victory in the final.
Cornwall Cricket Club's Amie Hucker was a standout for the young Auckland side, finishing as the team's top run scorer and wicket taker.
A high score of 50 not out, the tournament's second highest single total, against the NZ Invitational U15 Girls helped her side into the top position.
And she was just as impressive with ball in hand, picking up 11 wickets over the six matches, including figures of 4/12 against Otago.
"Obviously we wanted to win, but it was a bit unexpected," Hucker said.
"I do want to go on and play for New Zealand, but at the moment I'm just working my way up and getting into the age group representative levels."
Patel recognised Hucker's efforts saying she has a huge future if she continues to play the game.
Her bowling partner at the other end, Marama Downes from Howick-Pakuranga Cricket Club, also chimed in to help create a lethal opening attack.
"The biggest reason we came out as strong as we did was because of our opening partnership," Patel said.
"Obviously Amie shone with the ball, but our pair of opening bowlers were unbeatable at that tournament."
Hucker said the pace variance between the two bowlers helped trick opposition batsman and allowed them to pick up key wickets early.
Three girls from the side made the tournament's select XI - Hucker, Downes, and Emily Thurman from Cornwall Cricket Club.
Patel also praised youngster Emma Irwin, 12, from Parnell Cricket Club who received Auckland's Most Improved Player award.
"For a 12-year-old to be our most improved player at an U15 tournament, to carry us through a few games where it really mattered - she was our anchor."