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Red-hot season sees Auckland Hearts lift Hallyburton Johnstone Shield

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Nine starts, eight wins, a solitary loss and one washout: the Auckland Hearts barely missed a trick en route to lifting the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield for 2017/18.

Capping a superb campaign with one last win today against wooden spooners Northern Spirit — the title already in the bag after the previous day’s victory — the dominant Hearts have now laid claim to the national one-day championship three times in the last four seasons.

 

Captain Maddy Green led from the front in her first season at the helm, the second most prolific batsman nationwide finishing with 384 runs at 54.85.

Nineteen-year-old Maia Bouchier, who represents Middlesex in England, and Katie Perkins likewise finished with 40-plus batting averages, and the Hearts steamroller kept rolling even after thumb surgery removed experienced WHITE FERN Perkins from their midst, confined to just three appearances this summer.

Openers Lauren Down (286 runs at 31.77) and Anna Peterson (221 at 31.57) made sure the Hearts got off to a good start more often than not while seamer Holly Huddleston was the runaway top wicket-taker with 21 wickets at 11.60.

Peterson’s off-spin also made a big impact with 12 wickets at 11.91, including a tidy 5-20 off seven overs in today’s final round in Waikato, while 18-year-old up-and-comer Bella Armstrong stepped up in her third season with 10 wickets at 11.60, including a career best four-for yesterday, both players with an outstanding economy rate, having conceded fewer than three runs per over.

Arlene Kelly’s steady influence over the attack also continued with 11 wickets as the Hearts machine rolled on smoothly despite the retirement of long-serving captain and wicketkeeper Vic Lind at the end of last season.

Huddleston was the 2017/18 Hallyburton Johnstone Shield’s top wicket-taker overall, edging Wellington Blaze leg-spinner Deanna Doughty (20 at 13.35) who finished the one-day season strongly in Wellington, WHITE FERN and Otago Spark Leigh Kasperek meanwhile snaring 19 at 16.63 in a challenging campaign for the southerners while Blaze’s Lucy Doolan celebrated 18 wickets at 16.38.

Captain of the ousted defending champions, Frances Mackay, led her side valiantly with the ball to the tune of 15 wickets at 16.66 and 359 runs at 44.87, but it wasn’t enough for a side among several teams that struggled to reconfigure after losing top stars to teams across the Tasman during the Women’s Big Bash.

Kasperek’s innings of 92 in the final round today saw her sneak past Green as the top run-scorer in the competition with 409 at 45.44, while Magicians veteran Kate Ebrahim — hero of last season’s Final — came home with 366 runs at 44.87, just ahead of Mackay, Otago Spark and WHITE FERN Katey Martin (322 at 53.66) and Northern Spirit captain Natalie Dodd (321 at 32.10).

The competition saw just one century raised — by Martin, but 45 half centuries, with Green and Ebrahim accounting for eight of those between them.

Peterson, Jess Kerr (Wellington Blaze) and Doughty all pocketed five-wicket bags while the Auckland Hearts’ new wicketkeeper, Sarah Carnachan, topped the dismissals charts by a country mile with her 24 (20 catches, four stumpings) shading Jess McFadyen (Wellington Blaze) into second spot with 17 and Central Hind Kerry Tomlinson claiming 12 dismissals in her first season back with her old team.

While the women's domestic one-day summer is complete, the NZC Women's Twenty20 is still up for grabs, at its midpoint with all teams still very much in contention. The six contenders will slug it out in a supercharged tournament across 8-11 February 2018 in Lincoln, Canterbury.