Northern Spirit is looking to put the finishing touches on a red-hot breakthrough season when they host the 2019/20 Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Grand Final at international venue Seddon Park, Hamilton on Saturday 14 March.
Top qualifier Spirit has already defeated Grand Final opponent the Auckland Hearts at the same venue once this season in a nail-biting finish to the regular season - a tight win that not only cemented the hosting rights, but provided a dress rehearsal between the two outstanding one-day sides of the New Zealand summer.
Now, in just under a fortnight's time, Hamilton-based captain Felicity Leydon-Davis will be leading her side back into the arena in their first Grand Final - chasing Spirit's first national trophy of any sort in a season in which they have dropped just one Hallyburton Johnstone Shield game from 10 rounds, against the Canterbury Magicians in November.
Not only is it a shot at a maiden trophy, it's the first time Northern Spirit has so much as qualified for NZC's national one-day Final, and that they did with two rounds to spare and whilst marking their 20th anniversary season as a representative team.
Now the playing field is evidently levelling - after last summer's Grand Final saw the Central Hinds win the trophy for the first time in a decade.
Observed NZC Domestic Cricket Operations Manager Charlie Brewer, “It's been another hard fought season in which we've seen the competition take another leap forward in skill and intensity.
“It will be a special day for Northern Spirit for many reasons, not least that this is the first time they will have competed in a 50-over final - which is exciting for both the team and the Northern Districts region.
"Spirit brings form to the final, the Hearts bring experience and have featured regularly in finals since the competition’s inception.
“In recent times, Seddon Park has also provided a backdrop for some exciting [men's] Domestic cricket finals and, with the talent that both the Hearts and the Spirit can call on, it will be a compelling end to this year’s Hallyburton Johnstone Shield.”
The final showdown will be the last Domestic Grand Final of the NZC white-ball season, the Spirit and Hearts aiming to join Wellington Blaze (Dream11 Super Smash - women's T20), the Wellington Firebirds (Dream11 Super Smash - men's T20) and the Auckland Aces (The Ford Trophy - men's one-day) as white-ball champions in 2019/20.
The Central Stags meanwhile currently lead the Plunket Shield (men's first-class championship) which is decided by total points from eight rounds that conclude in the last week of March to end the Domestic summer of cricket.
The 14 March Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Grand Final will be played one day after the scheduled finish of Northern Districts' sixth-round Plunket Shield four-day match at Seddon Park against Canterbury, set for March 10-13; on a different pitch. Kim Cotton and Billy Bowden will umpire the Grand Final with ND's Bill Andersson and Phil Rice appointed as scorers.
HALLYBURTON JOHNSTONE SHIELD GRAND FINAL
Saturday 14 March 2020
Seddon Park, Hamilton
Start time 10.30am
Northern Spirit v Auckland Hearts
2018/19 Auckland Hearts - 2nd Northern Spirit - 6th
2017/18 Auckland Hearts - Winner Northern Spirit - 6th
2016/17 Auckland Hearts - 2nd Northern Spirit - 5th
2015/16 Auckland Hearts - Winner Northern Spirit - 6th
2014/15 Auckland Hearts - Winner Northern Spirit - 6th
2013/14 Auckland Hearts - 2nd Northern Spirit - 5th
2012/13 Auckland Hearts - 2nd Northern Spirit - 5th
2011/12 Auckland Hearts - Winner Northern Spirit - 4th
2010/11 Auckland Hearts - 5th Northern Spirit - 4th
2009/10 Auckland Hearts - 4th Northern Spirit - 5th
ROAD TO THE FINAL...
Round 1 Beat Canterbury Magicans by 5 wickets - Spirit's 5th highest team total (all-time)
Round 2 Lost to Canterbury Magicans by 29 runs
Round 3 Beat Otago Sparks by 9 wickets
Round 4 Beat Otago Sparks by 1 wicket - Spirit's 4th highest team total (all-time)
Round 5 Beat Central Hinds by 53 runs (DLS) - Spirit's 2nd highest team total (all-time)
Round 6 Beat Central Hinds by 8 wickets (DLS)
Round 7 Beat Wellington Blaze by 121 runs - Spirit's 6th highest team total (all-time) and; ND record victory by margin of runs
Round 8 Beat Wellington Blaze by 4 wickets
Round 9 No Result versus Auckland Hearts
Round 10 Beat Auckland Hearts by 5 runs
ROAD TO THE FINAL...
Round 1 Lost to Wellington Blaze by 66 runs
Round 2 Beat Wellington Blaze by 10 runs - Hearts' 13th highest team total (all-time)
Round 3 Beat Canterbury Magicans by 124 runs - Hearts' 12th highest victory by margin of runs
Round 4 Beat Canterbury Magicans by 3 wickets
Round 5 Beat Otago Sparks by 8 wickets
Round 6 Beat Otago Sparks by 8 wickets (DLS)
Round 7 Beat Central Hinds by 8 wickets
Round 8 Lost to Central Hinds by 8 wickets
Round 9 No Result versus Northern Spirit
Round 10 Lost to Northern Spirit by 5 runs
Competition Winner: Auckland Hearts
|Played||Won||Lost||Tied||No Result||Abandoned||Bonus Points||Total Points||Net Run Rate|
|1 –||Northern Spirit||10||8||1||0||1||0||3||37||0.84|
|2 –||Auckland Hearts||10||6||3||0||1||0||3||29||0.44|
|3 –||Canterbury Magicians||10||5||4||0||0||1||2||24||0.25|
|4 –||Central Hinds||10||4||4||0||1||1||3||23||0.30|
|5 –||Wellington Blaze||10||3||5||0||1||1||3||19||0.13|
|6 –||Otago Sparks||10||0||9||0||0||1||0||2||-2.11|