Cricket: Coach urges all players to step up

Warren Lees
Warren Lees
Otago Sparks coach Warren Lees has probably seen it all in cricket.

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 tournaments.

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 them.

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.

 


Women's cricket
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.