Central Districts Hinds allrounder Mikaela Greig made a return to where it all began at the weekend.

The 24-year-old was part of a Central Hinds side that has made a flying start to the season in their defence of the Hallyburton Johnston Shield with a comfortable 73-run win against Otago Sparks at Donnelly Park in Levin.

Greig, who as a youngster grew up playing against men in senior cricket grade in Horowhenua, has welcomed a new wave of popularity in the women's cricket, and with it recognition from the game's top brass.

That included new semi-professional domestic contracts from New Zealand cricket for a majority of the Hinds squad that she said went a long way to recognising the commitment players made to the sport.

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Greig, who had been a regular in the Hinds side since she was 18, said it went some way to covering costs that went hand-in-hand with playing sport at a higher level, like physiotherapy appointments and time away from work.

"It's huge. I think it is the first time ever and it's good to be recognised in that respect and makes a huge difference," she said.

There was also an increase in the amount of televised women's games booked on the calendar this season, from two to six matches, as the women's game continued to grow.

In the field over from Hinds match were two more women's club matches involving sides from Manawatū and Horowhenua-Kāpiti being played at the same time.

Greig said this season there were Hinds matches booked at the same venue as the Central Stags games this season, which provided an opportunity to showcase the women's grade in front of large crowds.

Last season a similar fixture at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth meant they had played in front of a crowd in excess of 2000.

Meanwhile, the Hinds were sent in to bat first on a good surface at Donnelly Park by new Sparks captain Bella James, and lost early wickets before Kerry Tomlinson and White Fern Hannah Rowe steadied the ship.

Rowe was caught on 22, but Tomlinson and Esther Lanser (45) carried on the good work as they set a target of 199.

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White Fern Rosemary Mair again showed her class with the ball and finished her 10 overs with three for 21, an opening spell which made life tough for the Sparks and they were all out in the 43rd over.

Rain on Sunday washed out the second match of the double-header.