A composite team, playing under the Cornwall Cricket Club banner, have become a billboard in the hope of reviving the No 1 summer sport in the country to its halcyon days for females in Hawke's Bay.

While the all-girl team, whose players hail from Hastings, Twyford and Clive, went through undefeated at the annual Riverbend Cricket Camp it wasn't so much the results that mattered most but simply relaying the message they have the fortitude to match the males.

Cornwall, who finished second out of 22 teams in the boys' year 4-5 grade from January 5-7, also have come away with a sense of appreciation of having the opportunity to build their character in a male domain.

Team manager Phillipa Wakefield, whose husband John is the coach and daughter Charlotte is captain, says the girls' skill levels differ but it was a fantastic achievement considering they had only come together in December, after the concept was mooted through social media.

Advertisement

"Not at all schools but at some of them, the girls end up playing in boys' teams so they bat down the order and they are the last to bowl and they are hidden in the field somewhere where the ball doesn't go much — that kind of thing," says Wakefield of the players whose ages range from 11 to 13.

At one player's school, girls aren't even allowed to play hard-ball cricket.

All that changed at Riverbend camp where the girls were treated equally.

Because the range of skills in the all-girls' team at the camp varied, they couldn't shuffle everyone up and down the batting and bowling order but they did make sure everyone got equal contribution.

"We wanted to give everyone a go but also remain competitive as well."

Wakefield says the outcome was girls who did exceptionally well and others who exceeded their expectations.

In beating Wellington Collegians on the opening day, they didn't lose a wicket and had 14 overs to spare.

On the second day they drew against Onslow, which came down to the last ball. In the other game that day, the Cornwall girls triumphed on the last ball against Upper Hutt.

In the final game, they skittled Brooklyn (Wellington) with four balls to spare after posting 117-3 in their allotted 30 overs to remain undefeated in their camp campaign.

While Wakefield didn't notice it she accepts some boys teams do hate losing to a girls' side but believes the future of the female playing structure is paramount.

She harks back to more than a decade ago when the camp had several girls' teams playing in a competition of their own, in the Ray Mettrick era, and the elite players then having the option to join a boys' team soon after to have a crack at a higher intensity level of cricket.
It also was a time when the province had 5-6 senior women's teams.

"That's our goal. We've had a lot of positive feedback from parents and girls so this year we had another team in the year 4-5 grade," she says, hatching plans for the involvement of under-13 and under-15 girls next year.

"That's the aim — to build up girls and women's cricket again."

Wakefield is hoping when the girls from the composite team return to their schools the attitudes of sports co-ordinators will have changed.

"The idea is they'll go back to play school cricket and then have Cornwall conduct a girls-only clinic in October with proper coaches."

Injecting them in the age-group Super League competition on Saturdays and then to the Riverbend camp will provide them the continuity and impetus to hone their skills.

"What I have found is that with having a son and daughter play cricket there are all these avenues for boys to play but it seems to be limited for girls.

"We need to get the word out there that girls can play hard-ball cricket. If Cornwall can get a girls' team together than maybe Napier Tech might get one together," she says.