The stage is set and the squads have been announced for the season-opening clashes of Dream11 Super Smash in Christchurch this Friday NZT.
The first match sees women’s defending champions the Canterbury Magicians go up against Wellington Blaze who won this title for three seasons on the bounce before the Magicians roared back to the top of the podium last summer, breaking their drought.
Then it’s a Grand Final rematch under lights between defending champions the Wellington Firebirds and hosts the Canterbury Kings!
The Canterbury Kings and Magicians have both named a potential T20 debutant/e with tall young NZ Under 19 rep Will O’Rourke and HBJ batting sensation Abby Gerken both contending for their first T20 Canterbury cap.
Right arm seamer O’Rourke, 20, opened the bowing for the Burnside West Christchurch University club in the 2020-2021 season, taking their T20 campaign to the final.
Abigale Gerken is meanwhile coming off the back of her maiden List A one-day century and half-century against the Otago Sparks in last weekend’s Hallyburton Johnstone Shield.
Magicians coach Rhys Morgan said it’s exciting to see the 19-year-old named in the squad.
“There’s always excitement whenever there is a new batter on the scene around the country, and we have her.”
MAGICIANS v BLAZE 3:10PM
Frankie Mackay (c)
Abigale Gerken - potential T20 debut
Laura Hughes (w)
KINGS v FIREBIRDS 6:40PM
Cole McConchie (c)
Cam Fletcher (w)
Will O'Rourke - potential T20 debut
Meanwhile the Wellington Firebirds could roll out a trio of T20 debutants at Hagley Oval.
With a host of first-choice stars away on international duty, head coach Glenn Pocknall has opted for youth in a new-look side with potential T20 debuts for batsman Nick Greenwood, allrounder Luke Georgeson and a potential full Firebirds debut for Wellington A sensation Tim Robinson.
Greenwood and Georgeson have already featured for the Firebirds this summer in the Plunket Shield, however Robinson is a bolter, a 19-year-old Wellington College old boy who was the leading run-scorer in last year’s National Under 19 tournament scoring 325 runs in seven matches, including five half-centuries at an average of 54.
He may become just the third teenager to debut for the Firebirds in the T20 format, following Rachin Ravindra (19) and Harry Boam (18).
Robinson has made a blistering start to this summer for his Onslow Cricket Club scoring 471 runs in his opening six matches, including back-to-back centuries on the opening day of the club T20 competition – 124 off 48 balls followed by 111 off 46 balls.
Of last year’s side that lifted the title, Tom Blundell and Rachin Ravindra are away on Test duty with the BLACKCAPS in India, Jimmy Neesham and Devon Conway are in managed isolation following their return from the T20 World Cup, and Troy Johnson is unavailable as he continues to manage a head knock.
Ex-Volt Nathan Smith will also make his T20 debut for Wellington as part of a strong bowling unit which includes BLACKCAPS Hamish Bennett and Ben Sears, leg-spinner Peter Younghusband, seamer Ollie Newton, and Logan Van Beek who has completed his managed isolation in time to feature after returning from his spell with Netherlands at the T20 World Cup.
Finn Allen will take the wicketkeeping gloves after his breakout summer last year.
Wellington Blaze will be able to draw on a host of international talent as they begin their quest to win back the Women’s title.
WHITE FERNS Melie Kerr, Maddy Green, Jess McFadyen, Leigh Kasperek and Thamsyn Newton are all included in tomorrow’s squad but captain Sophie Devine is unavailable due to her commitments in the Women’s Big Bash Grand Final this weekend, while fellow WHITE FERN Jess Kerr will miss tomorrow’s opener with a foot injury.
Blaze head coach Lance Dry said squad consistency was key heading into the Super Smash opener.
“We’re fortunate enough to be able to name the same squad that overcame Canterbury twice in the 50-over format a couple of weeks ago which bodes well heading into tomorrow’s Super Smash opener”, he said.
“Canterbury are a strong squad and have a number of potential game-changers, so we know we’ll have to be at our best to come out on top at Hagley.”
New Zealand Under 19 duo Georgia Plimmer and Tash Codyre are also included in the squad, the latter in line to make her T20 debut for the Blaze if selected in the XI tomorrow.
Play gets underway at Hagley Oval at 3:10pm NZT between the Magicians and Blaze, before the Kings and Firebirds under lights at 6:40pm. Coverage is LIVE on Spark Sport and free-to-air on Duke.
BLAZE v MAGICIANS 3:10PM
Maddy Green (c)
Melie Kerr (v-c)
Jess McFadyen (w)
FIREBIRDS v KINGS 6:40PM
Michael Bracewell (c)
Finn Allen (w)
Logan van Beek