The budding stars of women's cricket put their skills to the test when Whanganui hosted the Central Districts Year 11-13 Girls' Cricket Tournament.
During the week before Christmas teams from Hawke's Bay, Manawatū, Nelson, Taranaki and a composite side with players from Horowhenua-Kāpiti, Whanganui and Taranaki battled it out over a series of five T20 and two 30 over matches per team.
That equated to almost half a season of cricket in four days, which the girls handled well, playing the tournament with great spirit.
Eventual champions Hawke's Bay began the tournament as they meant to go on with a dominant display against Taranaki. Hawke's Bay posted 182/8 off their 30 overs and bowled Taranaki out for 52 off 21.2 overs.
Day two featured three T20 games that marked the start of the festival for the combined Horowhenua-Kāpiti/Whanganui/Taranaki team.
Whanganui had three representatives in the side, Grace Palazzo, Jemma Tan and Hannah Hickey. Each contributed well and played significant roles in the team and as they are just Year 11 students they will have two more years to really stamp their mark on future tournaments.
With Hawke's Bay automatically qualifying for the final as the only unbeaten team, this left a second/third playoff between Manawatū and Taranaki and a fourth/fifth fixture between the combined side and Nelson.
Both playoff games were tight fixtures as Manawatū posted 113/5 off 20 overs and restricted Taranaki to 101/6 off their 20 overs. In the other playoff, Nelson batted first posting an underwhelming 95/5.
Combined looked to be in trouble early but rallied well to chase the total down with two balls to spare.
Manawatū began the final on the front foot taking early wickets which left Hawke's Bay reeling at 46/6 halfway through their innings but some smart batting at the death brought them to a defendable 93/9.
After a disappointing batting display by Hawke's Bay standards, their bowlers were clearly fired up and out to make an impression and had Manawatū in all sorts of trouble at 3 wickets down for 1 run after 3 overs. Hawke's Bays Bowlers shone and had Manawatū all out for 21 in 10.1 overs. Flora Devonshire's figures of 6/3 off her 3 overs were the highlight.
In a tightly contested third and fourth final, combined pulled off the upset of the tournament in beating Nelson. Chasing 84 to win, Combined reached their target with two overs to spare.