Sporting a boyish haircut, she accepted why people often mistook her for a boy.

For that matter, it did not bother Maneka Singh much to slip on grossly oversized shirts and floppy batting pads just to play cricket either.

What rankled with Singh was that she wasn't among a group of talented teenage girls practising with White Fern Sara McGlashan one summer afternoon as she walked past the Cornwall Cricket Club Pavilion in Hastings.

The problem - she was only 7 years old.


A summer later, disappointment turned to delight when the former Raureka School pupil found a ball in her hot little left hand before rolling her arm a few times to the 2010-11 New Zealand women's cricketer of the year in the nets.

As luck would have it, five years later McGlashan was Singh's first "roomie" in a Christchurch motel when the youngster became the country's youngest domestic cricketer at the age of 13 years and 10 months, eclipsing the previous record of 14 years and nine months belonging to Munokoa Tunupopo, who made her debut for Auckland in 1998.

"I remember I was a terrible snorer in those days. In fact I still snore now," Singh says with a laugh.

If coach Mike Shrimpton picks her today, Singh will play in the second round of the women's domestic competition at Cornwall Park with Bay-born McGlashan against the Canterbury Magicians.

"I've never played at The Lords before so it'll be quite special," the 15-year-old says, revealing the most satisfaction she got was watching countless Cornwall Premier teams compete on the No1 field in front of the club's pavilion at the majestic park on Saturdays.

McGlashan, who is NZ Cricket's national women's development officer, was pivotal in the running of the New Zealand Secondary Schoolgirls' tournament in Palmerston North and returned late yesterday.

"Macca is an outstanding batsmen and an amazing fielder, way better than most guys," Singh says of the former Napier Girls' High School student who gave up wicketkeeping to focus on her batting with incredible success.

For the record, McGlashan has played at "The Lords" here and the real McCoy in England.

Singh, a Hastings Girls' High School student, is keen to see how the wicket behaves this weekend as the Hinds host the Magicians in an Action Twenty20 match today from 4pm and another on Sunday.

Tomorrow, the sides will play in an Action Cup 50-over match.

The last time the club hosted a domestic match at the venue was in 1998 when the CD men's team hosted Otago but the following year their first-class game against Auckland was rained out without a ball bowled.

Fingers crossed, the weather forecast is good for the weekend despite heavy clouds after the CD Stags' Ford Trophy game against the Wellington Firebirds at Nelson Park, Napier, was rained out on Wednesday. With men playing club matches on Saturday, Singh is hoping there will be solid turnouts to watch and support the Hinds against the defending champions today and on Sunday.

Hawke's Bay women's development officer Abby Burrows, who is four wickets shy of nailing 100 one-day wickets, is organising a few youngsters to be part of the CD Hinds' warm-up sessions. They will join them for lunch between innings to experience the atmosphere of playing in a short but intense five-round domestic competition in the country.

Singh, an NZ Emerging player, has been working out with White Ferns coach Gary Stead and former Black Caps bowler Shane Bond in Lincoln, Christchurch. She realises the impact McGlashan has had on her and is still having on numerous youngsters throughout the country.

Dunedin-born Singh, who arrived in the Bay when she was 2 years old, has played for Cornwall from the age of 8 after starting in the boys' under-11 Superleague team and making her women's debut as 12th man in the same summer.

"I missed out on boys' team selection a year before but I got in the following year and I have been with the club ever since," Singh says, recalling how she got the wicket of her then teacher/cricket coach, Leanne Mahoney, in her debut season for Cornwall women against Napier Old Boys' Marist. To top it off, older sister Andrea Singh took the catch at mid-off.

The youngster who played for the Heretaunga Intermediate boys' Milo Cup team, which lost to Hereworth in the Bay final, often received invitations to a selection side when Hereworth First XI wanted a warm-up game before heading off to the play-offs.

At 10, she was in the HB Under-14 girls' team and in her final year at intermediate she had made the cut for the Hawke's Bay Secondary Schoolgirls' representative team for their annual tournament in Wellington.

She also made the various Bay age-group boys' teams, winning awards as the top bowler, but selectors asked her to leave after she made the under-14 boys' team amid concern she was taking up a male player's position.

Her pint size didn't do her any favours, finding herself drowning in shirts that often left her on the wrong side of selections.

"The tops were so baggy they caught wind and slowed me down on my run up," she says with a grin, adding she used her Raureka and Heretaunga sports shirts until Cornwall and Bay women's coach, Bob Morgan, got a proper-sized shirt two years ago.

"In the CD team the tops were fine but Mase [recently retired White Ferns/Hinds skipper Aimee Watkins] said I could wear my own tracksuit pants and travel shorts."

Singh pays tribute to former CD coach Doug Bracewell, of Masterton, and retired Watkins for their unwavering belief in her to be able to foot it at the domestic level.

"Doug had faith in my ability despite my age," she says, after Bracewell didn't pick her following a CD trials in Palmerston North but did a U-turn when the Hinds lost their opening round matches to the Northern Districts Spirit in Whangarei.

With Sanika Rangnekar and Olivia Gregory also unavailable for the next round due to high school exams in the summer of 2009-10, Singh got the break she needed. She finished the season as the most frugal bowler for CD as Watkins lifted the T20 and one-day titles in Napier.

"Mase was a great captain and I remember she handed me the ball to bowl 10 overs on the trot in tandem with Broadie [Kate Broadmore]."

With speed merchant Rachel Candy switching allegiances to Canterbury and senior players retiring or injured the following summer, Singh found herself shining the new ball in trying to stifle batsmen at the death with her consistently hard-to-play, medium-paced left-armers.

"Sometimes Mase was so busy backing us to bowl and building our confidence she would forget to bowl herself."

Singh also thanked Cornwall club director of cricket David Black for his support and coaching during the years.

"I remember Blackie giving me throw downs near the nets because I was too small to train with the senior women while [sister] Andrea trained," Singh says of Black, who will be run off his feet this weekend ensuring everything goes smoothly as the host club.

That gratitude also extends to ex-interntional Brendon Bracewell, of Napier, who helped her and other CD Hinds players for two seasons.

Singh, who took 1-2 from two overs, including a wicket maiden, in the opening round against ND in Mt Maunganui last Friday in the only completed match in the first round, will have her work cut out this weekend against Canterbury boasting White Ferns batsmen such as Amy Satterthwaite, Erin Bermingham, Janet Brehaut and Frances Mackay.