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Retired all-rounder Sarah Tsukigawa was on the team sheet and so was experienced legspinner Emma Campbell.
Both have played international cricket and Tsukigawa, in particular, brings a wealth of experience. She retired at the end of the 2010-11 season but has decided to play in the opening three matches to see if she still has the desire to play.
"We'll just see how it goes in those games," Tsukigawa said.
"I still really love cricket and Warren asked me to play a couple of games and I agreed to.
"Nicole Bolton is coming over from Australia as our overseas pro ... but we've just got her for the last two rounds so it is just kind of filling a gap in the batting order."
Tsukigawa, at her best, was a punishing batsman and reliable medium pace bowler. The highlight of her domestic career was a stunning performance against Northern Districts at Carisbrook in December 2006.
She smashed 108 from 109 deliveries in an innings which featured 11 fours and three sixes. Having blasted the Northern attack to all corners, she then turned destroyer with the ball, grabbing five for 13.
West Indies great Viv Richards is the only other player to take five wickets and score a 100 in a one-day match at the venue.
Campbell took last season off to focus on life outside cricket but has also returned to the fold.
She played two one-day games for the White Ferns in 2009-10 but it was in domestic cricket were she had the most impact.
In 40 New Zealand women's league games, she has taken 75 wickets at 13.26.
"We have to make sure everyone who can play at the top level is available if we can," Lees said.
"So it is a big thrill to have Sarah and Emma back."
Suzie Bates will captain the side this season, after sharing the role with Katey Martin last summer. The duo carried the Sparks with the absence of Tsukigawa and Campbell last season but the talent was too thinly spread. Otago finished fifth in the one-day competition and last in the twenty/20 tournament.
Auckland, however, had an impressive season, picking up the one-day title and making the final of the twenty/20 tournament.
"The main goal is to win both titles this season," Hearts coach Haidee Tiffin said.
• One-day international record: 42 games, 730 runs at 22.12, 32 wickets at 32.02.
• International twenty/20 record: 19 games, 122 runs at 9.21, 5 wickets at 34.00.
• Domestic one-day record: 103 games, 2032 runs at 24.97 including two 100s, 84 wickets at 25.52 including one five-wicket bag.
• Career twenty/20 record: 43 games, 480 runs at 12.63, 37 wickets at 18.63.
• 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: Sarah Carnachan, Rosie Cox, Samantha Curtis, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Paula Gruber, Georgia Guy, Holly Huddleston, Arlene Kelly, Regina Lili'i, Victoria Lind (captain), Roz McNeil, Katie Perkins, Megan Tremaine.