Nelson teen Saffron Wilson slashes her way to the top at national cricket tournament
After a string of big hits in the middle, Nelson teenager Saffron Wilson is hoping a run of good form will keep her on song for higher honours.
The Nelson Nyxons and Wakatu women’s player excelled for Central Districts at the Girls Under 18 National T20 Cricket Tournament at Wellington’s Karori Park last month.
The 17-year-old topped the batting statistics with 180 runs in four innings, including two half-centuries, with scores of 20 not out against Auckland, 66 not out vs Otago, 55 not out vs Northern Districts and 39 against Wellington. Her only dismissal was a run out in a tight match where runs were more important than preserving wickets as CD headed for a five-wicket victory over Wellington in the final over.
“We had to be pushing the singles as much as we could and unfortunately I got out with three overs to go in our innings.”
A useful strike rate of 89 runs per 100 balls and an outstanding average of 180 had given Wilson a greater belief regarding her abilities in cricket’s shortest form. “Before going to the tournament I didn’t think I was that much of a T20 player, but I surprised myself by showing that you don’t need to necessarily smack the boundaries to be a good batsman. “You just need to push the singles, put pressure on the field and put the bad balls away – I think I could have a good future in that.”
Wilson then carried her T20 batting form into the CD U20 tournament at Levin between February 2-4 where the Nyxons finished with a two-win, two-loss record. Wilson top scored with 22 in the team’s seven-wicket win over eventual winners Taranaki and 44 in the loss to hosts Horowhenua-Kapiti. She believed her all-around abilities were still coming to the fore and was currently undergoing some work to improve her bowling action.
However, batting remained her strength, she said. “I do love a good cover drive.” Currently, in her final year at Nelson College for Girls, Wilson started playing cricket at age 9. As well as age-group representation for Nelson and Central Districts, Wilson has also played indoor cricket for New Zealand in several age-group sides. At club level, she has played second-grade club cricket for the Wakatu men’s team and now plays for the Wakatu Ladies team.
Wilson said she felt more confident of carving out a professional career in the years ahead with the televised profile of women’s cricket increasing and New Zealand Cricket promising to assess the pay gap between women’s domestic cricket and the men’s game at the end of the 2019 season. “It makes me feel I can potentially have a career in cricket without having to take another job on the side – you see some of the White Ferns unable to play because they’ve been caught up with work.
“If you are an international you should be able to play what they’re good at like the men do.”