New Zealand’s Sophie Devine returned scored the fastest-ever century in the history of women’s T20 cricket for Wellington Blaze as they beat the Otago Sparks in the Super Smash. The White Ferns captain only left managed isolation on Sunday after a 14-day stay upon returning from Australia, but showed no signs of rust as she powered her side to a 10-wicket win at University of Otago Oval.
Devine brought up her century off just 36 balls, beating West Indies batter Deandra Dottin’s previous record of 38 balls, set in an international against South Africa in 2010. She hit nine fours and nine sixes during her innings, and one of her shots that cleared the boundary grazed a girl watching on from the bank.
Immediately after she had sealed the win, Devine made a point of checking on the girl, who was fine. The Sparks gave the brave youngster a signed Otago jersey.
Devine said she had been ‘really nervous’ in the morning, having last played for the Perth Scorchers in the Women’s Big Bash League on November 25. “Whenever you have an extended break, for me, away from the game, you get nervous about ‘Can you come back in to it?’ so it was nice to spend some time in the middle and get a few out of the screws,” Devine told Spark Sport.
“For me it was just about playing smart cricket – to know where my gaps were, trying to manipulate the field … I felt I knew where they were trying to bowl so if I could manipulate myself around the crease, I could open up areas of the field, so, yeah, I’m pleased with the way it went today,” the 31-year-old from Wellington added.
The Sparks made 128-7 after winning the toss and choosing to bat, but the Blaze proceeded to chase it down in just 8.4 overs without losing a wicket. Hayley Jensen made 35 off 26 balls for the Sparks, while Millie Cowan made 29 off 29 and Katey Martin made 27 off 29, but they were no match for the might of Devine.
Jess Kerr took 2-15 and Leigh Kasperek took 2-20 for the Blaze, while captain Maddy Green made an unbeaten 20 off 15 balls in support of her star player.
The Blaze moved ahead of the Auckland Hearts at the top of the table with the win as they continued their hunt for a fourth Super Smash title in a row. Next up for them is a clash with the Canterbury Magicians at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Saturday, while the Sparks now face the winless Central Hinds at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth on Monday.