Good golly Miss Molly

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At the age of 15, most young cricketers are probably quite content securing a spot in their school or club team.

Molly Loe is not like most players though, and on Saturday the talented teenager made her debut for the Otago Sparks against Central Hinds in a Hallyburton Johnstone Shield one-day match in Palmerston North.

While the result did not go the way the Sparks would have liked as they fell to a nine-wicket loss, it was all about experience for the Oamaru youngster.

She batted at No11 for her side, scoring one not out, before she took the Sparks’ sole wicket as the side tried to defend a low total of 116.

It was a good wicket, too – current White Ferns player Jess Watkin, caught by Caitlin Blakely for six.

Loe, who attends St Hilda’s College in Dunedin, claimed figures of one for eight from three overs as the Hinds chased down the target in just 20.1 overs.

Loe also played the same opposition the next day, a game won by the Hinds by 247 runs.

She scored two not out with the bat and finished with none for 46 from seven overs with the ball.

Loe said she had been buzzing ever since Sparks coach Nathan King told her after a training session she was in the squad.

“I don’t think I kind of registered that I had been picked as such until a few days after and I was like ‘I’ve actually been picked for the Sparks’,” she said.

“It’s definitely something I’ve been working hard for, especially in the last few months I guess. I was expecting it in a few, maybe, but not quite as soon.”

As you would expect, Loe was nervous standing at the top of her mark before she bowled her first ball, but those nerves subsided once she got into her work.

She said it was “pretty cool” to pick up her maiden wicket and test herself at a higher level against established players with international experience.

“It gives me a bit more confidence knowing who’s in the team and knowing I can play at that level now, I guess.”

Loe hoped to get more opportunities in the future and said King had indicated she was in the mix for the future.

Her road to the Sparks started when she was a pupil at Weston School and her parents encouraged her to give the game a crack.

“My brothers were playing club cricket and my mum and dad were like ‘just give it a go’, so I managed to play for Valley for the junior team and I thought ‘I actually quite like it’.”

These days, she plays for the St Hilda’s first XI and the Kaikorai club in Dunedin.

Loe has also found the time to come back to Oamaru and play a few games for the Valley club’s second grade side.

Given Loe’s encouraging start with the Sparks, she now wants to push for higher honours and a place in the White Ferns.

“It might not be soon, but that’s the next step I guess.”

She drew inspiration from the likes of Wellington Blaze spinner Amelia Kerr, who made her debut for the national side at the age of 16 in 2016, fellow Sparks players Suzie Bates and Leigh Kasperek, and also Sophie Devine, who all play at international level.

“When I saw her [Kerr] make the New Zealand team, I thought if someone that young can make the team it’s pretty cool.”