Deanna Doughty in action. © Wellington Blaze/ Twitter

Deanna Doughty, the right-arm leg-spinner, will lead Wellington Blaze in their first round of matches of the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield against Auckland Hearts at the Basin Reserve on Saturday (November 16). As the team’s vice-captain, she will step up in the absence of Leigh Kasperek, who is unavailable due to injury.

This will be the 25-year-old’s first experience of captaincy, having made her debut for Wellington back in 2011. Last season, she finished as top wicket-taker in the one-day tournament with 21 scalps to her name.

Wellington have named a strong squad with a good mix of youth and experience in their ranks. Liz Green-Perry, the former international, who handed the captiancy reins over to Kasperek in the off-season, is the most experienced player in the squad with 131 caps under her belt. On the other end of the spectrum are Maneka Singh and Natasha Codyre, two potential debutantes in the mix.

Xara Jetly and Beth Molony, both who have graduated through the pathway program, look set to make a mark, while Thamsyn Newton, the allrounder who is also creating waves in the rugby circuit, will add some much needed stability to the unit.

Aside from Kasperek, Wellington will also be without the services of Rachel Priest, Sophie Devine, Amelia Kerr and Maddy Green who are all taking part in the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia.

Despite their absence, Ivan Tissera, head coach of Wellington, said he is confident that the team is well prepared after a strong pre-season.

“There is a good mix of youth and experience in the squad and we’ve had a great pre-season program so we’re all excited to start the season at the Basin Reserve on Saturday,” Tissera said. “It’s been a really long pre-season that has brought huge improvements and it’s now important that we focus and get the season off to a positive start over the weekend.”

The coach was also very complimentary of Doughty’s leadership skills, adding that she has a great deal of experience to draw from.

“Deanna has been an outstanding domestic player for a number of years and has led by example this pre-season, so we’re really looking forward to seeing her lead the team out tomorrow.”

The first few matches will hold a great deal of importance in Wellington’s campaign as they look to secure their first one-day title in 15 years.

They kick off their campaign against Auckland on Saturday, before returning to the same venue the following day to face them in the second round again.

Squad: Deanna Doughty (c), Rebecca Burns, Whetu Campbell, Natasha Codyre, Allex Evans, Xara Jetly, Jess Kerr, Caitlin King, Jess McFadyen, Beth Molony, Thamsyn Newton, Liz Green-Perry, Maneka Singh.

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