Northern Spirit

When I was first invited to write a few blog pieces for Northern Districts Cricket, I thought I could offer a point of difference by writing a couple of short pieces on the women’s game. Much like the men’s flagship, the Plunket Shield, our domestic women’s competition doesn’t get the coverage it deserves. Yes, it’s something of a minority sport when compared with the might of netball, but as cricket supporters we owe it to our mates, sisters, girlfriends and mothers who toil away for very little other than the love of our great game, to show it at least a passing interest.

I hope such sentiment doesn’t come across as condescending, it’s meant as anything but – sometimes the written word can’t truly articulate the considered argument running through my head. I’m the first to admit that I’ve taken little more than a passing interest in the women’s game, but part of my writing with ND is to learn more about the game, both internationally and domestically.

Where possible, I’d like to get along to the occasional game, as I would with the men, probably with kids in tow to give the bride a break.

Over the course of the season I’ve got a couple of interviews with the Northern Spirit players lined up, and along with the profiles the team have been kind enough to provide, I’m hoping to learn a bit more about what makes the Spirit tick, and what attracts them to our great game.

But, that’s enough rambling from a cricket tragic…
The women’s domestic season is underway – as with the men’s competition all six provinces are represented:
  • Northern Spirit
  • Auckland Hearts
  • Central Hinds
  • Wellington Blaze
  • Canterbury Magicians
  • Otago Sparks
The sides compete solely in limited overs formats, T20 and one-day matches, over a short seven week season. For those of you, I include myself in that, who consider the men play too little quality domestic cricket to equip them for the rigours of the international game, it’s a big ask for the women to do the same. There is a short break in mid-December, when the White Ferns head to Sydney for a four match ODI series for the Rose Bowl, before domestic cricket gets underway again after Christmas. 

In 42 days, each side plays five triple headers, one against each of the other provinces – a T20 followed by two one-dayers, all consecutively. For most of the players, it’s then back to work for a brief stint before repeating the process again and again. Put yourself in that environment if you can. Three days cricket, travel, work, more travel and repeat. My boss, let alone my family, would probably throw their toys – they’d let me go, but it’d be a struggle on both fronts. Either that or any annual leave would be used to allow the players to follow their dream in the hope of an ascension to the international ranks – given the amount of time dedicated to cricket over the summer I imagine a short overseas tour would be the closest many get to travelling the world. 
Both seasons round out in mid-January with two one off finals to decide the champion in each format. For most it’s then a return to a “normal” life and a diet of nets and club cricket.

Interviews - At the wicket with...

Anna Peterson
Who'd have thought?
Anna Peterson is living the dream – a lifestyle many of us imagined as young children hitting a taped-up tennis ball in the backyard. She may not be the Malcolm Marshall or Martin Crowe figures we had “dibs” on as we wiled away long into the summer sun, but she lives and breathes cricket – at work, play and recreation.

Anna talks to a cricketing Buddha about what she needs to do to regain her spot in the White Ferns, her work with young girls wanting to give cricket a go, and ascension of a woman to the coach’s job (that plug should help with the first point…). She also enlightens us about her love of teapots - there’s far more to the young Hamiltonian than just cricket.

Spirit captain, Morna Nielsen
22 year old Morna Nielsen’s game has undergone a major transformation. Entering New Zealand’s domestic game as a wide-eyed 17 year old medium pacer, she is now carving out a niche as one of New Zealand’s premier limited overs’ bowlers – as a left arm spinner.

Morna talks to a cricketing Buddha about her start in the game, personal milestones versus team achievements, and basing herself across two different islands. She also wades into the debate of test cricket and T20 – not really, but they tell me that controversy sells…

Profiles of some special cricketers – "A Spirited conversation with…"
Back yard cricket? Balancing a “real” job? Cricket with the lads?

A number of the Spirit players gave me answers to those questions and many more – an insight into the cricketing lives of Northern Districts’ best and brightest.

Take the time and get to know a little more about the women of the Northern Spirit – they’re an interesting bunch…
Keeping up with the Spirit
Want to know more about the players, the team or when the Spirit play?
Find the Spirit on Twitter:
Competition schedules:
 Other sites of interest:

Tell me what you think – I’d love your thoughts. I’ve enjoyed getting to know a little more about the Spirit – upcoming interviews will give me a greater insight. Tweet me - @aotearoaxi.

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