Sports correspondent & historian
Two of the top three teams in Women's International Cricket will square off at the Bay Oval at Blake Park in Mount Maunganui this week, when the New Zealand White Ferns play Australia Women.
The two sides will play the second and third matches of the 2017 ODI series for a trophy simply known as “The Rosebowl” at the Bay Oval. Game two is on Thursday (March 2) while what could be the title decider is set for Sunday (March 5).
While Australia hold the top spot in the ICC Women's Championship with 126 points, the White ferns lurk in third place a solitary point behind England who are just four points away from Aussies.
Last February the White Ferns squared off with the Australian Women's side in a three game ODI's fought out at the Mount Maunganui international cricket ground. The 2016 Rosebowl series turned into a battle of attrition after New Zealand took out the first encounter.
Australian captain Meg Lanning produced back to back centuries in the last two matchups to give Australia a hard-fought 2-1 series win. To add to the pulsating action during the series, White Ferns skipper Suzie Bates fired a century at the Australian visitors in game three, to set up a thrilling finish.
This year's two encounters at the Bay Oval are also set to go down to the wire, with the White Ferns getting up to win game one in the 2017 Rosebowl series in Auckland last Sunday.
The best part for local cricket fans, is free entry, to see some of the best women's cricket players in the world in action. New Zealand Cricket has gone a further step to promote the international contests, in providing funding for buses to bring school pupils to watch game two on Thursday.
One White Ferns player is well versed in the grounds and facilities in the Western Bay, after learning her cricket craft in the region. Anna Peterson recently wrote her own piece of New Zealand Women's Cricket history, when she became the first kiwi to take a hat-trick in Women's T20 Internationals, against Australia.
Anna was part of a pilot project run by Bay of Plenty Cricket around a dozen years ago to develop the girl's game in the region. For a couple of seasons a Wednesday after-school girl's cricket program was run at Waipuna Park. From those humble beginnings Bay of Plenty Cricket has gone on to become one of the front-runners in developing girl's cricket in the country.
Today Bay of Plenty Cricket delivers the GoGirl program which teaches introductory skills to the aspiring young girl players of the region. The much anticipated highlight each year is the Rainbow World Cup, for primary girls, where they get to dress up in colours of the rainbow and have a real fun day out playing the game.
This season, Briana Perry, Nensi Patel, Holly Topp and Taneika Uerata have earned selection in ND Under 18 Women's team, while Kate Anderson was joined in the ND Under 21 Women's side by Briana Perry and Nensi Patel. At the end of the National Under 21 Women's tournament Briana and Kate were named in the National tournament team.