All-girls competitions a real winner at Hawke’s Bay Cricket Camps – New Zealand Herald

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Wyntah Green-Thom, right, celebrates taking a wicket for a combined Hawke's Bay and Manawatu XI against Auckland's Cornwall Cricket Club during the Hawke's Bay Cricket Camps. Photo / Paul Taylor
Rebecca Rolls is widely regarded as one of the finest cricketers Hawke’s Bay has ever produced.
She’s certainly among the most successful, having won a Cricket World Cup for New Zealand back in 2000, on
But she never played in the Hawke’s Bay Cricket Camps, or “Riverbend’’ as it was known in her day.
“I wasn’t able to go,’’ Rolls said.
“That Riverbend camp’s been going since I was a kid but, as a girl, I wasn’t allowed to go and wasn’t able to. Which changed shortly afterwards and [future White Fern] Sara McGlashan went when she came through, but I would’ve loved to have been there.’’
Things have changed a bit now.
Not so long ago, McGlashan and current White Ferns such as Sophie Devine and Amelia Kerr were able to play at the camps – just as part of boys’ teams.
In the last three or four years, girls’ teams have played in mixed grades but the 2023 edition of the camps – which concluded on Tuesday – were notable for the first iteration of all-girls competitions. Four teams contested the Year 7 and 8 camp, with eight taking part in Year 9 and 10.
“There’s a real positive community feel around it,’’ said Olivia Boyd, coach of the Eastern Suburbs Cricket Club Year 9/10 team from Wellington.
“These games are competitive, but not in an adversarial way. It’s really positive, lots of recognising what one another are doing well across both teams.
“I’ve been up here with a girls’ team in the mixed grade before and the boys aren’t quite the same with the girls but, in this context, it’s really positive.’’
Sherridan Cook, coach of the Year 9/10 team from Auckland’s Cornwall Cricket Club, agreed.
His side attended the camp last year as well but have gained a lot more from this one.
“If they played with boys who are super competitive and were getting them out all the time, they’d quietly move out of the game,’’ Cook said.
But by playing with girls – against girls – the players feel less intimidated, better supported and more able to express their talent.
Rolls, who is now a board member at New Zealand Cricket, didn’t want to speak on the governing body’s behalf. But, from a personal point of view, she was delighted to see how Craig Findlay and Craig Ross from the Hawke’s Bay Cricket Association have emphasised the value and importance of female participation.
“The more you can play as a kid in these organised competitions and play with your mates, enjoy the game and make it really inclusive the better,’’ said Rolls.
For both Boyd and Cook, recognition of female players at grassroots level is tremendously heartening. New Zealand Cricket has made important strides in achieving pay equity for elite male and female players, while the staging of last year’s Cricket World Cup on these shores did a lot to raise the game’s profile.
But that has to be backed up by opportunities for young players to develop.
“The pool of players in all of our regions is still relatively small and this tournament means we get to play good-quality cricket against teams from a range of associations,’’ Boyd said.
“My daughter wants to be a professional cricketer and they can see a pathway now,’’ added Cook.
“When my daughter heard that NZC were paying equal pay to the women and the men she said ‘yeah, about time’.’’
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The sun finally shone on Central Hawke’s Bay for the Cycling CHB MTB Challenge.

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