Western Spirit shines with up-and-coming talent

Western Spirit's Scarlett Saxon-Jones. Picture Shawn Smits.

By Lance Jenkinson

The future of female cricket in the west is on solid ground.

Western Spirit under-17 representative team coach Candace Hulett pointed to her team’s results at the Cricket Victoria Youth Premier League as a strong indication of the potential.

The Spirit had a superb tournament, winning five of its seven matches and narrowly missing out on the final.

“In the past four or five years, we’ve only won one or two games for the whole tournament, so to only lose two this year was fantastic,” Hulett said. “The girls really played well as a team.”

What excites Hulett most was the make-up of the team. All but four of the players who featured in this year’s tournament will return in a bid to go one better next summer.

“I think there’s only four girls that go up an age group next year,” she said.

“We’ll have the bulk of the team still together and some of the under-14s who are pushing up to the 17s next year will easily fill up the spots. The future is bright for the west.”

Western Spirit’s preparation for the competition was second to none.

The elite under-17s in the west began training together back in June with the final squad announced in October.

“To play as a team, we’ve been training as a team as well,” Hulett said.

The emphasis was on getting the “one per centers” down pat.

Hannah Brne. Picture Shawn Smits.

Photo Gallery: Western Spirit vs Central Highlands 

With the competition all limited overs games, the little things mattered and were crucial in the Spirit’s winning record.

“Building partnerships, building pressure, backing up in the field – the one per centers – all those little things that tend to go unnoticed,” Hulett said. “They can make a big difference in a game and the girls did it really well.”

Scarlett Saxon-Jones was Western Spirit’s most consistent performer. The all-rounder produced with bat and ball, blasting 184 runs at 30.67 and taking 11 wickets at 8.5.

“Scarlett is probably one of the cleanest hitters I’ve seen,” Hulett said.

“She’s able to get on top of teams early on with her power. Even her bowling – she’s a very quick bowler.

“She genuinely had quite a few girls jumping back because she’s such a big strong girl and quite tall, as well, so she gets good pace and bounce.”

On the batting side, Sarah Jenkinson had a fantastic tournament, finishing with 129 runs at 32. Aged 14 with two more years at this level, Jenkinson has tremendous upside for the Spirit.

“She was one of our go-to batters because she’s got all the shots and just plays smart cricket, which a lot of 14 year olds don’t – some just go out and swing the bat,” Hulett said.

Lauren McGrath, with 10 wickets at 10, and Hannah Brne, with nine wickets at 6.6, finished in the top 10 for wickets in the tournament.