On the eve of the first Dream11 Super Smash game for the Wellington sides, Amelia Kerr and Nick Kelly are named as captains to lead the Blaze and Firebirds into their T20 summers.
Fresh off a return from the WHITE FERNS, Amelia Kerr is in her second summer of captaincy for the Spotlight Reporting Wellington Blaze, having captained the side in the front-half of last season, leading the team to a record-breaking winning streak before going on international duty late in the season.
The Blaze have welcomed back two other WHITE FERNS from international duty, with Jess Kerr and Georgia Plimmer also rejoining the squad. For Jess Kerr, it’ll be her first time in a Wellington uniform this summer, as a successful stint with the Sydney Sixers in the WBBL and time with the WHITE FERNS has kept her busy.
Plimmer has been enjoying her time in the yellow and black, notching a career-best score of 147 against ND in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield competition.
Gemma Sims is in line for a potential Wellington debut, having played previously in the Super Smash for the Central Hinds.
Sophie Devine will be unavailable for the first part of the Super Smash campaign, after a joint decision from NZC and Cricket Wellington was made to give Devine a wellbeing break following a heavy workload over the past 12 months.
"With the Super Smash competition about to start, the team is fuelled by last year's close call in the final, and are determined to bring home the win this season. Otago are a great team and we know they'll be bringing their A-game on the 21st, so we've been preparing well, and we're delighted to be welcoming some of our international players back to the squad this week - we know how much the wider team gains from their experience with the likes of Melie (Amelia Kerr), and Georgia Plimmer rejoining us", said Blaze Head Coach Lance Dry.
Nick Kelly is continuing his leadership spell with the Firebirds, after captaining both the four-day and one-day sides already this season, he keeps the faith of Head Coach Shane Jurgensen as the side turns their focus to the T20 campaign.
The Firebirds are continuing with a relatively set squad that has seen only minor tinkering around the edges throughout the campaign so far.
Emerging top-order allrounder Muhammad Abbas is in line for a potential debut tomorrow, having featured prominently in both the Firebirds and New Zealand A squads already this year.
Jesse Tashkoff is also a potential debutant tomorrow after having a near-debut last season. Tashkoff was named in a Playing XI, only for rain to prevent him from earning his first T20 cap on that day.
Combined with a strong bowling attack that has some of the domestic scene’s top performers this season, the Firebirds look in good shape to start the Super Smash.
BLACKCAPS Tom Blundell, Rachin Ravindra, and Adam Milne are currently unavailable for selection due to being in the national side for Pakistan’s ODI Tour.
Devon Conway is unavailable due to being on a break after a busy year of cricket, while Michael Bracewell is rehabbing from an Achilles injury that he picked up in England earlier this year.
Firebirds coach Shane Jurgensen says "The team is looking forward to our first T20 home game of the season. We’re now focused on this first match against Otago. The team had a great outing against them last season at the Basin and were able to secure a win, with some stellar performances, especially Rachin’s (Ravindra) 67 to secure the win - we look forward to hopefully a number of strong contributions from the Firebirds on Thursday".
Round 1 of the Dream11 Super Smash for the Firebirds and Blaze will take place as they face Otago at the Cello Basin Reserve on Thursday 21st December 2023. The Spotlight Reporting Wellington Blaze are up first with a 12:30pm start before the Firebirds take the field for a 4pm first ball. The game will stream live on TVNZ+ and TVNZ Duke.