Cricket: Win crucial for Sparks' title hopes

The Otago Sparks must beat Wellington today to keep their twenty/20 title hopes alive.

That said, coach Clare Taylor would gladly sacrifice the away win for two in the State League when the sides play back-to-back one-day fixtures in the capital tomorrow and Monday.

"It's not that I'm not a fan of twenty/20. But if you are going to take it seriously in the women's game, then it has to be a competition on its own," Taylor said.

At the moment the twenty/20s were serving as a teaser to the main event, she said, and her players had tended to approach them as a warm-up for the one-dayer.

"They are just going out there and not really thinking about it. They should be trying to put into practice what they need to do in the 50-over tournament.

"I think that is what is going wrong. Some of our guys are getting a bit cavalier with it all then do the same thing in the 50-over game."

The Sparks are in last place in the twenty/20 tournament with two losses from two matches.

A loss would likely end any chance of making the final.

They are better placed in the one-day competition with one win from three matches, but need more from their experienced White Ferns duo of Suzie Bates and Katey Martin.

The pair have been opening the batting but have not yet posted a big partnership.

Taylor said she may have to look at making a change if the top order continued to miss out.

"I'm a great believer in letting the team have a say and they seem to believe Katey and Suzie can do it for us up there. And we don't want to panic too soon.

"We've only had three [one-day] matches. So I think we'll leave the order the same and perhaps stick with it if it comes off."

Otago has made one change from the side which lost to Canterbury by six wickets, with England bowling all-rounder Lynsey Askew replacing Ariana Te Wake, who is unavailable due to family commitments.

Askew has played eight one-day internationals for England. She is in New Zealand for a holiday and is available for the next two weeks.

Wellington has been boosted by the return of White Fern Sophie Devine from Canterbury this season, along with former White Fern Anna Dodd, who returns after having a baby, and has gained former Northern Districts player Kerry Anne Tomlinson.

Former Black Caps openers Craig Cumming and Aaron Redmond, and England all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas will be the star attractions at Otago Country Cricket Association's "An Evening of Cricket" on Monday night.

The event, which begins at 7pm, will be held at the Cellar Door Function Centre in Alexandra, with the funds going to the association.

It will be hosted by Radio Sport and Sky Sport commentator Steve Davie.

International umpire Tony Hill will join Cumming, Redmond and Mascarenhas in a panel-type discussion and there will be opportunities for guests to ask questions.

Tickets will be available at the Otago-Northern Districts game at Molyneux Park on December 27

Otago v Wellington
Wellington, today

Otago: Sarah Tsukigawa (c), Katey Martin, Megan Kane, Lynsey Askew, Suzie Bates, Tessa Hopkinson, Emma Campbell, Lucy Foote, Kylie Crowley, Tanya Morrison, Abigail Kitchin, Lisa Grant.

Wellington (from): Amanda Cooper, Anna Dodd, Sarah Bradbury, Sophie Devine, Lucy Doolan, Melinda Hodgson, Charlotte Mizzi, Elizabeth Perry, Sian Ruck, Sarah Sim, Andrea Stockwell, Kerry Anne Tomlinson, Megan Wakefield.
Coach: Mark Borthwick.



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