All-round Jess Kerr help Wellington Blaze continue unbeaten run in Super Smash 2021-22

Jess Kerr in action © Getty Images

Jess Kerr put on a magnificent display of swing bowling before playing an important cameo as Wellington Blaze continued their unbeaten run in Super Smash 2021-22. Jess’ all-round performance helped Blaze beat Central Hinds by five wickets even as Jess Watkin’s 70-run knock went in vain at the Pukekura Park in New Plymouth on Saturday (January 8). Blaze are still on top of the table with seven wins from as many matches and with this win they became the first side to qualify for the finals of the competition, while Hinds have only one win from eight games.

Opting to bat first, Hinds were all at sea against Jess as she got the bowl to swing in against the right-handers. In the third over, she shattered the stumps of Gemma Sims before getting Cate Pedersen to nick one behind to Jessica McFadyen. The right-arm swing bowler then got one to comeback against Georgia Atkinson as Hinds found themselves reeling at ten for three in the fifth over.

From there, after three sedate overs, Watkin counter-attacked as she smashed Leigh Kasperek for two sixes before hitting Amelia Kerr for another maximum. Just when it looked like Hinds were on their path to recovery, Xara Jetly removed Mikaela Greig to end the 40-run partnership.

That didn’t stop Watkin as she hit the next ball for another six and backed it up with a four. Although she lost Rosemary Mair as well, Hinds skipper took on Amelia once again to launch her for two more maximums on the way to her fifty. She reached her seventh T20 fifty from 34 balls.

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However, Jess came back to dismiss the hard-hitting Watkin for 70 off 45 balls in the 17th over. Some big hits from Hannah Rowe helped Hinds to 123 for six at the end of their stipulated 20 overs. Rowe remained unbeaten on 28 off just 20 balls.

For Blaze, Jess was the most successful bowler with figures of four for 18 from her four overs.

Blaze’s chase didn’t get off to a great start as they lost both Rebecca Burns and Georgia Plimmer early to Mair. Amelia in the company of skipper Maddy Green steadied the ship and took them to 59 in the tenth over. Hinds kept themselves in the game with the wickets of Amelia, Kasperek and Maddy by the 13th over.

From 82 for five, Thamysn Newton needed someone to stay with her to take Blaze home. Jess let Newton play the anchor role as she hit Claudia Green for a boundary in the third ball she faced. With Newton also hitting Claudia for a couple of fours, Blaze target was reduced to 20 in the last four overs.

Once Jess smashed two boundaries against Mair, it was only a matter of time for Blaze to reach the target. Jess capped off her excellent day in style when she hit the winning shot with a boundary off Melissa Hansen’s first delivery in the final over. She remained unbeaten on 25 off 15 balls.

Brief Scores: Central Hinds 123/6 in 20 overs (Jess Watkin 70, Hannah Rowe 28*; Jess Kerr 4/18) lost to Wellington Blaze 127/5 in 19.1 overs (Maddy Green 28, Amelia Kerr 26; Rosemary Mair 2/16) by 5 wickets