Otago Sparks coach Warren Lees has probably seen it all
He has played and coached the game at the highest level. He
knows what it is like to be run out or caught on the
boundary, and he has experienced the joy of winning
There is no substitution for that kind of experience and that
is the main message he wants to pass on to his mostly young
side this season.
"We can provide skills training but if you don't go out and
get run out or dropped on the boundary or get hit for four
twice in a row - if you don't experience that, you can't
learn from it," Lees said.
"So we're not cricket savvy yet, that's all."
The Sparks open their campaign with a twenty/20 match against
Auckland in Invercargill today and have one-day games against
the same opponent over the weekend.
"None of the games will be easy but this is one of the
hardest ones to start off with. We're unlikely to dominate
but we want to be competitive and we want some of our girls
to realise the potential they have shown so far."
The Sparks have relied on star players Suzie Bates and Katey
Martin to carry the team and Lees has acted to help bolster
the side's experience this season.
Former White Ferns all-rounder Sarah Tsukigawa has agreed to
return for the opening series of games against Auckland and
is open to returning for the season but wants to see how she
feels after the weekend before committing.
Her return, even if it proves temporary, will be a fillip,
and former White Ferns spinner Emma Campbell has also
returned after taking a year off.
"We know how good Suzie and Katey are but we want to reduce
the pressure on them as much as possible so they can continue
to enjoy playing, rather than going out and feeling every
single time they play it is a test match.
"What we've got to do is get the team over that first hurdle
so they can get some confidence.
They have possibly been a bit fearful about what they could
lose by or fearful of Katey and Suzie not carrying them to a
win. That's no good for anybody."
Lees said some of the players might have felt 10 or 15 runs
was a decent effort but he needed to squeeze 20 or 30 out of
If he is successful, the Sparks can be more competitive than
their results from last season suggest.The Sparks won one of
their five one-day games and one of their twenty/20 games.
But the best measure of success, he said, would be if players
enjoyed the summer and were keen to return for another.
Invercargill, starting today
• Otago Sparks: Suzie Bates (captain), Katey Martin, Sarah
Tsukigawa, Lisa Grant, Victoria Abbott, Millie Cowan, Sarah
Osborne, Polly Inglis, Kylie Crowley, Emma Campbell, Rebecca
Henderson, Ashleigh White, Kate Stiven.
• Auckland Hearts: Rosie Cox, Sam Curtis, Lauren Down, Maddy
Green, Paula Gruber, Georgia Guy, Holly Huddleston, Arlene
Kelly, Regina Lili'i, Vic Lind (captain), Roz McNeil, Katie
Perkins, Megan Tremaine.