Last month the Auckland U18 Girls side competed for the second time in the Australian National U18 Championships in Ballarat, Victoria.
The squad, coached by former Hearts player Elfriede Chooi and captained by Francesca Wilkinson, competed against seven state sides from across Australia with games often taking place in temperatures as high as 40 degrees.
The Auckland team had a perfect start to the competition defeating Tasmania in the first round. Shriya Naidu, Leah Watts and Khusboo Patel all took two wickets as Tasmania scored 161/9 batting first.
In reply captain Wilkinson led from the front with a superb 81 to guide her side home to a six-wicket victory.
In round two Liz Olney took three wickets and Patel, Yasmeen Kareem and Claire Crooks two, as the ACT scored 177 batting first. In reply Wilkinson top scored once again with 44 while vice captain Natasha Van Tillburg made 35 as Auckland finished just seven runs short of the target.
In round three Auckland lost to Western Australia by eight wickets in a T20 match before falling just eight runs short against South Australia in round four.
In round five a strong Victoria side defeated our girls by eight wickets and an impressive New South Wales team defeated Auckland by 79 runs in round six. The group stages of the competition finished with a defeat at the hands of Queensland.
After facing each team once the girls were then matched up with Tasmania again for the final game of the competition.
Tassie batted first and were in deep trouble early as Naidu claimed two wickets with the new ball. A middle order fightback saw the Australian outfit recover to 78/3 but a five-wicket bag for Watts instigated a collapse which saw them fall to 89 all out.
In reply Saachi Shahri struck five boundaries in her innings of 38 while Van Tillburg faced just 26 deliveries scoring 36 not out as Auckland won by eight wickets.
While Auckland`s matches didn’t count towards the points table our girls certainly made a positive contribution to the tournament and were rewarded with the spirit of cricket award while Wilkinson was named batter of the tournament and named opener for the Cricket Australia Tournament Team.
In the bowling department Crooks was Auckland`s leading wicket taker while Watts` five wicket haul was the best individual return from any bowler during the competition.