Spirit high as Browne sets new benchmark

RECORD BREAKER: Northern Spirit all-rounder Nicola Browne has reached a record 3100 runs in domestic competition.
RECORD BREAKER: Northern Spirit all-rounder Nicola Browne has reached a record 3100 runs in domestic competition.

Nicola Browne had three reasons to celebrate yesterday.

Browne scored a century for the Northern Spirit, who recorded an impressive one-day win over the Wellington Blaze in Mount Maunganui, and during the weekend the star White Ferns all-rounder became the most prolific batswoman in New Zealand cricket domestic history.

Browne passed former New Zealand captain Emily Drumm's tally and went past 3000 runs, finishing the day with her domestic career tally at a neat 3100.

"I haven't really had a chance to think about it," Browne said of her landmark last night.

"But funnily enough Emily Drumm was the one who really taught me how to bat. Firstly, watching her thump us around the park when playing for Auckland, and then when she joined Northern Districts she took me under her wing and showed me how to build an innings.

"I feel very privileged - and old," the 29-year-old Browne laughed.

Batting first at Bay Oval yesterday after a loss to the Blaze on Saturday, the hosts made 243-3, with Browne scoring 115 off 143 balls, including 12 fours. Spirit opener Nat Dodd made her second unbeaten ton in as many days, with an accomplished 106 not out from 150 balls as the duo put on a record-breaking 236 for the third wicket.

They then grabbed the prize wicket of Sophie Devine for 40 off 46 balls as the Blaze were rolled for 207 in 42.5 overs.

That gave the Spirit their second victory in four matches from their one-day campaign to keep them in contention for a place in the final.

"It's a truly great achievement," Spirit coach Owen Steverson said of Browne's career landmark.

"It just reflects a lot about her and her contribution to not only Northern Districts cricket but New Zealand and international cricket as well."

On Saturday, Devine hammered an unbeaten 137 off just 73 balls in 85 minutes, featuring 10 sixes and nine fours, as Wellington amassed 322-4 in their 50 overs.

In reply, Dodd made an unbeaten 113 from 158 deliveries, Anna Petersen added 51 and Kerry-Anne Tomlinson 36 as the Spirit got to 262-5.

"She [Devine] is a great player and I don't think we bowled that badly too her - she was just too hard to combat," Steverson said.

He also had plenty of praise for the in-form Dodd.

"Nat was brilliant both days. She batted the full 50 overs both days and hit the bad ball away.

"She works really hard at her game and to get back-to-back tons was a great reward."

Steverson said his young side "was definitely making some progress".

"The couple of games we have lost it's taken some pretty good innings from the opposition to take the game away from us. Even on Saturday I thought that was a pretty good effort and we just couldn't match Sophie Devine.

"The wicket and outfield was brilliant - the batters certainly enjoyed it but it was hard work for the bowlers.

"Today [Sunday] it started to get a little tired and without as much bounce, so it was ideal to win the toss and bat first and put some pressure on."

Waikato Times