Sports correspondent & historian
The rise of Western Bay of Plenty women's cricket star Nensi Patel continues, after she was one of eight women to receive NZ Cricket Women's Development contracts for the 2021/22 season.
Along with fellow Bay of Plenty and Northern Spirit player Kate Anderson, Nensi has traversed the NZC players pathway, to be on the cusp of White Fern selection.
Head of NZC Women's High Performance Program Ant Sharp said "These contracts give up-and-coming female cricketers a chance to grow and develop not only as players but as people too.
"Part of the criteria for these contracts is picking players with the potential to earn White Fern contracts in the future."
Nensi and Kate, join Bella Armstrong (Auckland Hearts) Sarah Asmussen (Canterbury Magicians) Claudia Green (Central Hinds) Fran Jonas (Auckland Hearts) Molly Penfold (Auckland Hearts) and Gabby Sullivan (Canterbury Magicians), with a clear direction towards White Fern selection.
New Zealand Cricket Major Association history was made, when Nensi was selected for the Northern Spirit against Auckland on November 25, 2016, when she was 14-years-old.
Nensi first came to the attention of Bay of Plenty cricket fans as a Year 8 student at Tauranga Intermediate School, when making her Bay of Plenty Women's team debut in ND Women's Championship competition.
She made an indelible impression in her first game against Waikato Valley, scoring 21 runs and taking four wickets at a cost of 26 runs.
Her bowling scalps included White Fern Nicola Brown and Northern Spirits players Brooke Kirkbride and Emma Parker.
Nensi followed up the next day in her sides match-up with Hamilton, grabbing a further three wickets.
Since her NZC Major Association debut, she has represented ND at age-group level at National tournaments.
In February 2021, she was selected for a New Zealand Women's XI, that squared of with the touring English Women's side in a two game series.
In tandem with Nensi's achievements on the field of play, accolades have come at cricket awards functions.
April 2018 saw her receive the ND Young Female Cricketer of the Year.
Earlier this year, Nensi received the NZC Gillette Venus (Secondary School) Cup player of the year, at the New Zealand Cricket prize giving.
She was the standout player at the 2020 Gillette Venus Cup National finals. In six matches the Tauranga Girls' College all-rounder belted 181 runs, taking 11 wickets and holding three catches for good measure.
A highest score of 85 not out helped produce a tournament average of 36.20 with a strike rate of 112 (per one hundred balls).
Nensi enters this season, with 45 NZC Major Association matches in her bank of experience.
She has posted 217 runs with a top score of 53no and taken 35 wickets with a best of 4/19.
This year NZC Women’s Development contracts are another step towards more professionalism in the women’s game, both in payment to players and the further development of the women’s game.
Western Bay of Plenty cricket followers will look forward to the Nensi’s performances in the near future, to see if she can utilise the extra resources of a NZC Development contract, to make the breakthrough into the countries National Women’s cricket side.