A bonus point victory this Saturday will be enough for the Auckland Hearts to secure New Zealand’s national women’s one-day title and lay claim to the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield.
Just two one-day rounds remain for each of the six teams — Round Nine this Saturday, Round 10 on Sunday — but the Hearts need things to click into place in just one of their back-to-back fixtures against Northern Spirit over the weekend to lock up the 2017/18 championship.
A win is worth four points and, as it stands, they already have an eight-point buffer on the chasers, plus a solid net run rate advantage should teams finish on equal points at the top.
That means the remaining mathematical contenders, the Canterbury Magicians and Wellington Blaze — who face each other in the final two rounds in Wellington this weekend, will not only be hoping for Northern Spirit to beat the Hearts back-to-back this weekend, but for themselves to conjure up at least one bonus point in their must-wins.
Both Blaze and defending champions the Magicians have gone five from eight this season while the Hearts have dropped just one game, and finish their title-race away to a team that’s at the wrong end of the table: fifth-placed Northern Spirit has just a 25 per cent win record in the one-day format this season.
Like the Spirit, the Otago Sparks and Central Hinds are already out of contention.
WHITE FERNS top statchat
The Auckland Hearts can lay claim to both the top run-maker and top wicket-taker heading into the final weekend of the one-day HBJ Shield season.
WHITE FERNS seamer Holly Huddleston leads the season wickets tally with 18 wickets at a superb 11.38 average, three victims ahead of Blaze legspinner Deanna Doughty.
Leading from the front in her first season in charge, Hearts captain and WHITE FERNS allrounder Maddy Green is the most prolific batsman with 357 runs from eight games at a 59.50 average.
In second spot is Canterbury Magician and former WHITE FERN Kate Ebrahim (née Broadmore) who has 325 runs from seven games at 81.25.
Both have been consistent performers with four half centuries each, while the Otago Sparks’ irrepressible veteran Katey Martin will be looking to close the gap on them heading into this weekend with 322 runs at 53.66 from her seven games; Canterbury Magicians allrounder Frances Mackay just a fraction behind with 321 runs at 53.50, also from seven games.
Lauren Down meanwhile continues to press hard at the top of the Auckland Hearts’ order, coming off an unbeaten 66 in the last round to take the right-hander to 232 runs at 33.14, sneaking her into the top 10. At just 22, Down is in her seventh summer for the Hearts — the team that has claimed the one-day championship twice in the last three seasons.
ROUND NINE, Saturday 27 January 2018 — 10.30am
ROUND TEN, Sunday 28 January 2018 — 10.00am
At Karori Park, Wellington
Wellington Blaze v Canterbury Magicians
- Official hashtag: #HBJShield
• All matches are free entry and live-scored at www.nzc.nz
T20 TITLE RACE WIDE OPEN
While the one-day Hallyburton Johnstone Shield will conclude this weekend, there’s plenty of action yet to come in the race for the other item of silverware up for grabs, the NZC Women’s Twenty20 trophy.
Six rounds remain to find New Zealand’s 2018 T20 national champion, starting with Round Five this Friday afternoon.
All teams will then converge in Lincoln from the 8th to the 11th of February for five back-to-back rounds (including one doubleheader day) — playing each other tournament-style in what’s shaping as a fascinating crescendo to the domestic women’s season.
Wellington Blaze and the Auckland Hearts are currently deadlocked on 12 points at the top of the NZC Women’s T20 table, but all four other teams are capable of overtaking them.
Northern Spirit top order batsman and former South Africa international Bernadine Bezuidenhout heads the T20 run-making chart with 149 runs heading into this Friday.
Magicians star Amy Satterthwaite and young Central Hinds powerhouse Jess Watkin are in equal second spot with 108 with Hearts captain Maddy Green only a fraction behind.
ROUND FIVE, Friday 26 January 2018
At Karori Park, Wellington, 4pm
Wellington Blaze v Canterbury Magicians