River Cunningham and Katelyn Walton started their cricket careers by helping make up numbers.
They first picked up a bat at Weston School, when the school ended up representing Otago-Southland at the New Zealand primary school girls final.
Now, the 16-year-olds have been selected in the Otago Cricket under-19 squad together.
It is Katelyn’s first selection in the side. She has previously been selected for Otago under-15 teams.
“I couldn’t find my name in the list, I was looking for it and when I saw it, I was like this?’,” she said.
The St Kevin’s College pupil was one of 24 players selected in the squad, and it would be cut to make the team competing at the national under-19 tournament, in Lincoln.
As it was her first season at this level, she was realistic she might not make the cut.
The all-rounder travelled to Dunedin for training and would take part in practice matches before the team was chosen.
“It would be nice to make the team, but considering my age, it’s my first time, it’s something I’ll be working towards.
“I just want to work hard, be able to chip away at it and keep working forward to inspire others who are younger.”
She felt she was more consistent with her batting, but as an off-spin bowler she was learning new techniques to force batsmen to change their angles, through the help of coach and former Otago Sparks player Tanya Morrison.
“It’s getting my placement right each time.
“It’s been good getting to know new people, getting some new coaches and a different perspective from the teams.”
River, who made the squad last year, has chosen not to accept this season’s invitation, in a bid to focus on her studies.
“I just did not feel this year I could give it the focus is deserves,” she said.
The wicket keeper said the squad provided fantastic one-on-one training, helped develop her skills and was a great opportunity for Katelyn.
“Otago teams are awesome – it’s a really cool place to get to learn and improve.”