Venus Cup 2023 Preview
By NZC Thursday 07 December 2023, 03:00 pm

The 29th edition of NZC’s Venus Cup begins in Lincoln, Christchurch next Monday 11th December, bringing together the top female secondary school cricket sides from across the nation.

Teams will compete in six Twenty20 matches over three days in a round-robin format.

Two teams return from the 2022 tournament, while four new teams will get their chance on the national stage.

Matches will be scored live on as well as PlayHQ.

Read below for in-depth previews on each team.


Christchurch Girls’ HS (Christchurch):

Squad: Sacha Arnold (c), Alexis Arnold, Heidi Clouston, Lilah Cowan, Luce Dawson, Elise Dill-Russell, Lucy Easton, Freya Jemmett, Samantha Knight, Lily Rumball, Annalise Sloan, Pippa Ussher.

Coaches / Staff: Paul Knight, Robin Brown.

Preview: Christchurch Girls’ High School return to Venus Cup for a tenth time, and impressively their fifth consecutive appearance.

CGHS most recently won the tournament in 2020 and finished as runners-up in 2022, following a final over thriller against eventual champions, Epsom Girls Grammar.

CGHS hold the advantage of having eight returning players from the 2022 nationals in their squad, who will be aware of what is required to win the tournament.

Captain Sacha Arnold and Lucy Easton will be key figures with the bat for CGHS and will look to build on decent outings at the 2022 nationals.


St Hilda’s Collegiate (Dunedin):

Squad: Grace Hastie (c), Nova Wright, Ella Bezett, Chloe Deerness, Sophie Deerness, Hannah O'Connor, Hannah E Wilson, Hannah K Wilson, Ella Gibson, Megha Senthilkumar, Zarah Moana, Anna McClean.

Coaches / Staff: Kate Ebrahim, Bronnie McClean.

Preview: St Hilda’s Collegiate again return to the Venus Cup for their 13th appearance, having won the tournament twice in 2016 & 2018.

Their squad includes an intriguing mix of youth and experience – ranging from year 9’s to year 13 students who have attended Venus Cup in the past.

Contracted Otago Sparks off-spinner, Chloe Deerness, will be add the experience of her ten domestic appearances thus far, while younger sister Sophie (Deerness) and Ella Bezett have been touted as young players to watch.

SHCS’ preparation for nationals was boosted by travelling north and competing against some of the form schools in Christchurch, as well as a fixture at Willows CC against Christchurch Girls.

This was followed by a recent trip to Wellington to play Scots College and Wellington College – yet another fantastic playing opportunity, but more so a trip they will remember fondly from their school years.

Chloe Deerness in action for the Otago Sparks - @photosportnz


St Matthew’s Collegiate (Central Districts):

Squad: Emma McLeod (c), India Bartlett, Sally Booth, Francesca Wells, Lily Hunt, Lucy Jurlina, Anita Lyford, Dina Morrison, Ava Register, Mia Sayers, Sophie Sweeney, Vanessa Taylor, Ribh Holden.

Coaches / Staff: Tony Lyford, Gene Bartlett, Kim Register, Rachel Shearing.

Preview: St Matthew’s continue their rise to cricketing prominence with a third appearance at Venus Cup over the past five years.

After their 2nd & 3rd place finishes in 2019 and 2020, SMCS will be looking to go one better and bring the Venus Cup back to Masterton.

New Zealand U19 and Central Hinds representative, Emma McLeod, will be looking to go big in her final year for SMCS.

McLeod was key in her side's qualifying efforts, scoring 64 runs (47 balls) in the regional final to help SMCS post a match-winning total.

Vanessa Taylor will bat in the top order and open the bowling – making her a key player for SMCS. Bowling all-rounder India Bartlett will be another player to watch, having already represented Central Districts Māori as a Year 11.


Takapuna Grammar (Auckland)

Squad: Scout Hallman (c), Izzy Fox, Rishika Jaswal, Raiha Jeory Reynolds, Orla Langdon, Audrey Melhuish, Jasmine Perry, Olivia Priddy, Pippa Priddy, Maia Scott, Issy Smith, Dorothea Waldron, Isabella Watson.

Coaches / Staff: Johan Kirstein, Johanna Melhuish, Michael Tillett, Gillian Scott.

Takapuna Grammar are another side with a nice mix of youth and experience – with about half their squad being year 13’s, and the rest from other year levels.

They are relative newcomers to the Venus Cup, and will appear in just their second national tournament following their first back in 2020.

Captain Scout Hallman, Izzy Fox, Rishika Jaswal, and Jasmine Perry all featured in the 2020 squad, and will eagerly anticipate another opportunity.

Year 12 spinner, Rishika Jaswal, will be a player of interest following her recent impressive debut for the Auckland Hearts.

Izzy Fox and Maia Scott have shown plenty of promise with the bat, while opening bowler Orla Langdon will take the new ball for TGS.


Tauranga Girls’ College (Northern Districts):

Squad: Elle Archer (c), Amelia Harvey, Aimee Unwin, Onnah Baxter, Mackenzie Hohaia, Sophie Macken, Amelia Grason, Amelia Gemming, Preet Kaur, Mayelan Opperman, Stella Hoskin, Brooke Valois.

Coaches / Staff: Emma Talbot, Nicole Unwin.

Preview: Tauranga Girls’ College qualify for their seventh Venus Cup, and are looking to enjoy all parts of the national tournament experience.

Coach Emma Talbot gave a short preview on the team.

“The strength of the team is strong senior student leadership and a great team vibe. We love the game and are here to have fun!”

Team captain and NZ Māori Schoolgirls rep, Elle Archer, played a key role in TGS’s qualifying efforts, and will be an important figure both with the bat and as a leader.

Aimee Unwin is another who has impressed with the bat during qualifying, while Mayelan Opperman bowled an important spell to help secure victory in their regional final.

TGS’s last appearance in 2020 was led by now Northern Brave star, Nensi Patel.

Aimee Unwin, Elle Archer, and Amelia Harvey all featured in that side, and will look to relish their final national tournament as TGS students.

Elle Archer plays a shot for NZ Māori Schoolgirls - @photosportnz


Wellington Girls’ College (Wellington):

Squad: Kate Chandler (c), Lucy Robinson, Kate Palmer, Theodora Gempton, Ava Tsourgas, Emily McArdle, Eva Hay, Jessica Robinson, Frida Larsen, Libby Duncan, Nell McCrystal, Tori Thompson.

Coaches / Staff: John Chandler, Natasha Robinson.

Preview: Following a fifth-place finish in 2022, Wellington Girls’ College will return to Venus Cup for their 10th national tournament appearance.

While WGC will be looking to improve on last year's results, they will have the confidence of having 2022 Tournament MVP, Kate Chandler, in their squad.

At just 17 years old, Chandler is also now a contracted Wellington Blaze player with 22 games of domestic cricket and an U19 World Cup under her belt.

As well as Chandler, WGC will have the benefit of nine returning players from last season.

Wellington U19 representative, Eva Hay, impressed at the 2022 tournament and will be vital with both bat and ball.

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