More resources for Sparks but grassroots concern

The Otago Sparks have had more support and resources this year than coach Nathan King can recall.

But the reality is the women’s game still needs more resources and support if it is going to develop, he said.

King is in his second stint as coach of the Sparks and has a long association with the team stretching back 15 years. He believes some positive moves have been made by the Otago Cricket Association to promote and develop the game.

But the women’s game still struggles for numbers and it will take years for initiatives such as Girls Smash to contribute to a larger base of players who can be called on to play representative cricket.

"Grassroots cricket is still a massive area of concern," he said.

"I think there have been some good things done at primary school level over the last couple of years.

"And the resources that are now getting put into the Sparks has come a long way in a very short period of time as well."

The problem is there is no club cricket competition and it "is a big step up when you get into the Sparks’ environment and try to perform on a national level".

"They get looked after well once they get into the Sparks but we’ve got to keep doing more for them at a grassroots level.

"It is a nationwide problem. When you look at the likes of Wellington and Canterbury, well, their club competitions have actually gone backwards in recent times, so they have similar issues at a grassroots level as well."

"We just need more females playing cricket. When you look at who I’ve got to pick from for the Sparks, there is not a lot of players around and that is a major issue."

The Otago Sparks will complete their Super Smash campaign with a  tough match against Auckland at the University of Otago Oval tomorrow.

The side is in fifth place with three wins from seven completed games. Auckland is in second place with five wins and victory tomorrow would secure it a place in the final against Wellington on January 20.

The Sparks have made just one change with Bella James coming in for Georgia Heffernan.The goal is finish with a strong performance, King said.

"I just want us to put together a full performance.

"We’ve batted really well in the last three games but we’ve been hit and miss with the ball and in the field."

The Sparks have a relatively inexperienced bowling unit but players such as Emma Black and Eden Carson have made positive strides, while Polly Inglis has been impressive with the bat.


Women’s Super Smash

Otago v Auckland
Dunedin, tomorrow, 12,45pm

Otago: Millie Cowan, Alice Davidson-Richards, Polly Inglis, Leigh Kasperek (captain), Megan Gibbs, Caitlin Blakely, Kate Heffernan, Bella James, Emma Black, Ella Brown, Eden Carson, Marina Lamplough.

Auckland (possible): Lauren Down, Anna Peterson, Maddy Green, Katie Perkins, Holly Huddleston, Arlene Kelly, Regina Lili’i, Tariel Lamb, Roz McNeill, Bella Armstrong, Skye Bowden, Tahlia Wilson.

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