Women & Girls
St Matthew’s Collegiate making moves in cricket
By NZC Thursday 30 November 2023, 09:00 am

Despite being relative newcomers to the cricketing arena, St Matthew’s Collegiate School in Masterton have witnessed a positive surge in their cricketing prowess over the past 6+ years.

This December they will attend their third Gillette Venus National Tournament since 2019, before which their cricketing programme was almost non-existent.

Since 2019 they have seen many alumnae progress to higher honours, including Central Districts age-group sides, Central Districts Māori, the Central Hinds, Māori Secondary Schoolgirls, New Zealand XI and New Zealand U19.

These players include Gemma and Kate Sims, India and Ocean Bartlett, Emma McLeod, Jessie Hollard, Lizzie Cohr, Macy Lyford, Olivia Clark, and Hattie Vincent.

The 2023 St Matthew's squad after qualifying for Gillette Venus - CD Cricket

As Gene Bartlett - SMCS parent and cricket coach - explained, at the heart of the success is having the right people at the right time.

 “When Tony Lyford (coach) and I came onto the scene in late 2018, there was a core group of players that had a genuine interest in the sport,” said Bartlett.

 “We have also been well supported with passionate team managers (parents) that have led fundraisers and campaigns over time.”

“There is a deep level of camaraderie within our group and we enjoy the banter that goes alongside it all,”

Beneath a well-connected support group of parents, coaches and school staff lies a beautifully simple philosophy.

“The mantra is ultimately to enjoy the game for what it is, a game,” said Bartlett.

“Placing too much pressure upon the introduction to any sport causes pressure that ultimately affects performance,”

“Focusing our efforts on having fun and incorporating humour has resulted in the girls responding in the same way - this has been critical in formulating a level of trust between us and has also instilled a level of confidence in them.” Bartlett concluded.

As popularity of the sport continued to grow, so did support from the school and its sports staff.

SMCS now have a 1st and 2nd XI, several inter-school fixtures in their school calendar and have had training pitches installed at the school.

The SMCS school nets are an asset for not only the students, but the wider cricket community.

Current 1st XI captain Emma McLeod is one player who has reaped the benefits of a strong cricketing programme – representing New Zealand U19 in South Africa and recently earning a Central Hinds contract.

Emma McLeod in action for NZU19 - ICC


McLeod said the strength of the SMCS cricket programme is the community that surrounds it.

“Over the years our coaches, Gene Bartlett, Tony Lyford, have worked tirelessly and selflessly, constantly exploring new ways to help us improve,” said McLeod.

“Everything we do is for our team’s development - we are more interested in the process and the lessons we gain than in the result,”

“Kim and Brent register, our managers, have contributed to creating a sense of community through regular Facebook posts, allowing friends and family to follow our progress,”

“The support we receive is unmatched, it feeds the team's passion and inspires the girls to keep progressing.” McLeod concluded.

McLeod passed on a message of advice for schools looking to grow their cricket programmes.

“My advice to the schools or clubs is to identify community members who are truly passionate about the sport – they bring energy into the game and are the spark that ignites enthusiasm inside new players.”

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