In an action packed day of the Burger King Super Smash, the Canterbury Magicians managed to sneak into the finals, after defeating Central Hinds. Their qualification was also contingent on the Otago Sparks defeating Auckland Hearts, which they did.
Against Hinds, the Magicians batted first. Their captain Frances Mackay led from the front, scoring 97 runs off 61 deliveries, in a knock that included 16 boundaries. Throughout the innings, she was ably supported by her teammates, Erin Birmingham (36 off 25) and Kate Ebrahim (20 off 19.) Mackay put on a remarkable 90-run partnership with Birmingham, before adding a further 47 with Ebrahim. She was run out off the last ball- after being starved of the strike in the last over- trying to mint as many runs as she could. Largely due to her efforts, the Magicians ended their innings on an imposing total of 168-5.
For the Hinds, Hannah Rowe claimed two scalps, conceding 28 runs, while R. Mair, and G. Atkinson took a wicket each.
Unfortunately for the Hinds, they never got going in their innings. The Magicians remained firmly on top throughout the match on the back of some great bowling and fielding. The Hinds lost regular wickets, with Rowe being their standout player with the bat as well. She top-scored with a defiant 45 off 35. The only other batter to reach double figures was skipper A. van Deventer, who reached 16, before being bowled. The Hinds stumbled to 104-9 off their allotted overs, falling 64 runs short of the target.
G. Sullivan was the pick of the bowlers for the Magicians, taking 3-30. Birmingham and M. Banks chipped in with two wickets each.
Meanwhile, in a rain-affected, reduced-over match, the Sparks defeated the Hearts, to seal the Magicians spot in the finals.
With the match reduced to six overs a side, the Hearts smashed 50-5 off their overs. Maddy Green led the way with her blistering 11-ball 20. However, the Sparks were able to chase down the total with four balls to spare. Alice Davidson-Richards led the way with her 25* off 18, as the Sparks won by nine wickets.
After the results had come in and the Magicians spot in the final was confirmed, Mackay spoke to New Zealand Cricket. “When we were out on the field, the umpire said to me, ‘Otago started. How do you feel?’ It was that moment that you dread. I guess that real sink in your stomach feeling,” she recounted about the nervous wait. “To come off and here they’d scored 50, the Auckland girls, you kind of thought ‘wow that’s a lot.’ We just sat up in the dressing room, had the live scoring going. Refreshing, refreshing and then, to hear they’d got through (Sparks), there were lots of celebrations. We got our chant done, lots of happy faces. Just thrilled, really thrilled.”
While Auckland losing was important, more important was that the Magicians win their game first. “We haven’t played our best the last couple of games, we know that,” reflected Mackay on her sides performance. “We’ve probably been alright with the bat- maybe a little underpar where we would like- but, we’ve just been disappointing with the ball. So, it was really nice to come out, put on a good performance. I’m just really thrilled with how the girls went. They’ve worked really hard this week, came out with really good plans, just got it done, and it was awesome to see it backed up in the field, as well. Really thrilled with a pretty complete performance, at this time, in the season.”
On her own performance, and being starved of strike in the last over, which prevented her from scoring a century, Mackay commented, “Never thought I’d get into the 90’s in T20 cricket, to be fair. It wasn’t too much stress. It was more just trying to work out where we could score off Hannah Rowe, trying to get as many runs as possible. Because it was such a flat deck, we knew if one, or two of their players got away, it would be hard work. So, just trying to maximise what we could score off and just enjoying, as well. There’s not too many occasions you get to do it, and in front of your home crowd, in a crunch match, it’s just nice. If you’d said to me earlier in the day, you can have 97, or you can go out and chance your arm, I’d take 97 every day of the week.”
As for whether the Magicians have planned for the final, where they face Wellington Blaze, or not, Mackay remarked, “Absolutely. You have to. You have to do a little bit of planning, because if you don’t, you get caught on the hop. We’ve got a week to make sure our plans are spot on. But, we had a really good game with Wellington, so we’re really looking forward to getting our second crack. Hopefully, there will be a really good crowd at Eden Park, Outer Oval. They had a good crowd last time, and this time, we are playing after the men, so hopefully, people stay around. It’s really exciting, and hopefully, the crowd get amongst it even though Auckland didn’t manage to sneak through.”
The final will take place on Sunday, between the Canterbury Magicians and Wellington Blaze, at Eden Park, Outer Oval.