George Hill is hoping his productive spell in New Zealand club cricket, which has been T20 dominant, can pave the way for him to break into Yorkshire’s Vitality Blast team this summer.

All-rounder Hill, 23, is spending the latter portion of the winter in Christchurch, playing for the Weedons club.

His two-month spell with them as their overseas professional comes to an end early next month, and he has so far played seven T20 fixtures and one 45-over contest.

That will change later this week having been selected to play for the Canterbury Country side in a three-day Hawke Cup clash with Hawke’s Bay in Napier, starting on Friday.

“That’s their equivalent of National Counties cricket,” said the former England Under 19. 

“I’ve not played any red ball cricket here, so it will be good fun.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ George Hill acknowledges the crowd after he’s dismissed for 101 against Gloucestershire at Headingley last summer.

“I heard that Ajaz Patel might be playing for the opposition, Doug Bracewell too and a couple of other first-class players. So it should be a good standard, which will be good practice for me.”

Hill was put in contact with Weedons through his former Sedbergh School teacher, Martin Speight, who regularly spent his winters in that part of the world during his own playing career.

In seven T20s, five of which Weedons have won to put them on course for silverware, Hill has posted scores of 84, 53 not out and 38 added to 11 wickets, including four two-wicket hauls and a best of 3-21.

“It’s gone well,” he continued.

“I think T20 cricket is probably my weakest area back home, so it’s been nice to come out here and play a good number of games. 

“The wickets are a bit different to what they are back home – the wickets are a bit slower, the bowling is a bit slower, so it’s about adapting to different challenges.”

George Hill

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ George Hill bowls against Surrey during last summer’s Metro Bank One-Day Cup win at York.

Hill, who is living with and playing alongside former Canterbury spinner Jeremy Benton, has been batting at three and opening the bowling for his club.

Hill didn’t actually play any first-team T20 cricket for Yorkshire last summer, his last appearance coming in the 2022 quarter-final win against Surrey at the Oval.

Clearly, he is hoping that will change come May time.

“Definitely,” he went on. 

“Before coming away, I spoke to Ali Maiden about where I’d want to bat in T20 if I do play this summer, and that’s more in the middle overs.

“I did quite a lot of work with him on my options versus spin in the first part of the winter. In red ball, I obviously use my feet quite a lot. But that’s a bit trickier against the white ball when they tend to bowl a bit flatter and quicker.

George Hill

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ George Hill is targeting more Blast action in 2024.

“It’s about having options to hit from the crease – sweeps, reverse sweeps. That’s been really good fun. 

“Hopefully if I get a chance to play in the Blast, I can use what I practiced this winter at home and whilst at Weedons as well.”

Hill has taken the new ball for Weedons, a club he has loved playing for: “They’re such a good bunch of lads,” he said. 

“I’ve usually been bowling two up top and coming back to bowl two at the death. They’re the two hardest times to bowl, so it’s been a really good challenge.

“I’d love to bowl a lot more in all formats, and T20 cricket is no different.

“I’ve been lucky to be able to open the bowling here, and I’ve been practicing swinging the white ball, which is a skill in itself. I also really enjoy bowling the death overs. I’d be more than happy to take on that role if needed.”

Hill leaves New Zealand for home on March 6. 

“I land back three days before we go to Abu Dhabi for pre-season,” he added. 

“It will be a quick turnaround, but I’m looking forward to it. I feel like I’m in a good place.”

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