Sparks look for increased aggression

Otago Sparks coach Craig Cumming. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Otago Sparks coach Craig Cumming. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Craig Cumming is hoping his side can click into first gear today.

The Otago Sparks head coach felt they had been slightly quiet on the batting front to start the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield season, despite sitting second on the table.

But having two weeks between their last games — where they recorded both a win and a loss against the Canterbury Magicians — and facing the Central Hinds in Invercargill today and tomorrow has given them a chance to freshen up.

Cumming felt the break benefited the Sparks after a busy past month including preseason, camps and the opening four games — all on the road, which took a toll.

It provided a chance to re-group and identify where they wanted to improve.

That included their batting, which the Sparks had focused on in the nets this week, aiming to be more positive at the crease.

"[We’re] wanting to be a little bit more aggressive than we have been," Cumming said.

"That’s really important.

"That’s something we, I suppose, pride ourselves on and I think we’ve been a little bit stuck in third gear from a batting point of view.

"In saying that, we’ve only had four games."

He wanted more of the same from their opening games when they faced the Hinds but just with a "wee bit more intensity".

The Sparks head into today’s game with a record of two wins and two losses this season.

The Central Hinds come off the back of two losses to top-of-the-table Auckland Hearts, both by four wickets.

The Sparks are taking their first home game of the season to Queens Park in Invercargill, their first time playing in the Southland city for three years.

"It’s a great venue for the women’s game.

"We always look forward to going down there and the ground and the pitch are always great."

They will be without White Fern Eden Carson, who is playing in the final T20 against Pakistan in Queenstown today. Central Hinds will similarly lose Hannah Rowe to national duty.

Cumming, however, was confident Carson would be available for tomorrow’s game.

Bowler Molly Loe comes into the side for this weekend, in place of Gemma Adams and Harriett Cuttance.

Hayley Jensen is still working her way back from injury, but Cumming expected her to be ready for their first Super Smash game later this month.

Hallyburton Johnstone Shield

Invercargill, today and tomorrow.

Otago Sparks: Olivia Gain, Bella James, Caitilin Blakely, Felicity Robertson, Polly Inglis, Paige Loggenberg, Saffron Wilson, PJ Watkins, Emma Black, Sophie Oldershaw, Chloe Deerness, Molly Loe, Eden Carson*

Central Hinds: Natalie Dodd, Aniela Apperley, Georgia Atkinson, Ocean Bartless, Flora Devonshire, Claudia Green, Mikaela Greig, Melissa Hansen, Ashtuti Kumar, Emma McLeod, Rosemary Mair, Thamsyn Newton, Kerry Tomlinson