Blog 2 - Sam Haggo in Christchurch
Sam Haggo updates the Cricket Scotland website on her time spent cricketing in Christchurch.
A lot has happened since I last blogged about my time here in Christchurch.
Spring has turned into a warm summer, and with that came the heating up of the cricket season here in New Zealand. Driving past any of the dozens of parks and cricket grounds here you’ll see kids cricket, net sessions and even groundsmen preparing pitches for the weekend. There seems to be a real buzz about cricket here at the moment, no doubt aided by the World Cup.
As for my own cricket, I have had a fairly mixed season thus far. My club team, Sydenham, are mid-lower table in the league. We are a young side in its developmental stage. Ollie Rae (the coach) is really positive and encouraging with the girls, and hopefully this will encourage them to stick at it as there are some girls with some real raw talent.
We have ex-White Fern Maria Fahey amongst our ranks as a coach for the latter half of the season and I'm trying to utilise her knowledge and expertise whilst she is here. She recently coached the domestic women's team that won the one-day competition in the Indian women's league and has a great deal to offer through her own experiences of travelling the world as an elite cricket player, which I hope can help benefit me.
I have really enjoyed training and playing second grade men's cricket when I can. Some of these guys can hit a real clean ball, and so it's made me really work hard on bowling in the right areas. If I don't, I have a long walk to the other side of the ground to retrieve the ball, simple as.
I get given chat and sledged all the time, but I would like to think I can give it back (they might disagree). We had a T20 round the other week, and I was sitting scoring when an older bloke watching stated to me that Sydenham must be desperate if they have a girl playing.
The 3-12 off 4 overs I took later that afternoon is dedicated to you, sir!
In addition to playing for Sydenham, I've just been in the midst of an intensive season with the Canterbury Magicians. We missed out on the T20 final, helped by narrowly losing two of our T20's during the season in Super Overs. We finished top of the One Day table, and made the Domestic One Day final, which entailed us playing Auckland on home soil to good support. It went down to the 49.2 over, and Auckland scored a 4 to seal the victory, leaving us absolutely gutted.
Whilst I didn't always get to play, I did manage to get quite a few games under my belt, and even without this experience, the training alone was greatly beneficial, especially with Debbie Hockley as one of our mentors.
In addition, I definitely feel like I learned heaps from my team mates. Our captain, Amy Satterthwaite, had the season of her life, scoring 1102 runs for us, and I have a lot to learn from her composure and ability to lead from the front.
It was also an amazing experience for me to get to play at venues such as the Basin Reserve in Wellington, and Seddon Park in Hamilton. It gave me a taste of the more professional side to cricket than what I am used to, and I will never forget that.
We also stayed in the same hotel as New Zealand and Sri Lanka and played the same wicket as them the next day which was pretty cool. Little things like that really make me appreciate this opportunity and sometimes it's nice to take a step back and be grateful for this experience.
With the season back home approaching, I’m ready to kick things up a gear with various technical aspects of my game and fitness to ensure I'm ready to go hard at that first game. I am really excited for the big season ahead with the Wildcats and hope that I can utilise all that I've learned to put in some good performances.
It was also bizarre to experience my first summer Christmas season. Surfing in the beach on Christmas Eve, followed by sunbathing by the pool on Christmas Day was definitely surreal. I was very fortunate to be able to experience the Boxing Day Test at the new Hagley ground from the pavilion.
I was lucky enough to get to meet NZ legend Sir Richard Hadlee who was sitting just along from me. It was a scorcher of a day and Brendon McCullum's utterly ridiculous knock of 195 off 134 balls made it one to remember.
As for the aforementioned Cricket World Cup, excitement here has reached fever pitch with some amazing cricket being played everyday - with players doing something even more ridiculous than someone the day before...aka Messrs McCullum, DeVilliers, Southee et al.
Here in Christchurch, we hosted the opening ceremony and warm-up games such as New Zealand v South Africa, as well as three World Cup fixtures. After the opening fixture between New Zealand v Sri Lanka, I travelled to Dunedin to catch Scotland v New Zealand, Scotland v England and West Indies v Pakistan in Christchurch, and then back to Dunedin to catch the battle of the associates in Scotland v Afghanistan.
It was great to get the flag out and support our boys even if the results haven't gone our way! There has been no shortage of support and it's been great to catch up with familiar faces from back home. It was slightly different to back in October when myself and Ollie and our little Scottish flag made up the vast majority of the crowd, cutting lonely figures on the banks at Hagley and Lincoln.
All in all, I'm having a great time and with just over a month to go, I'm hoping to make the most of the rest of my time here, and watch Scotland win their first World Cup fixture(s)!