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Coffee and Cricket - a Perfect Brew for Penfold

Republished from Outright #55 - By Margot Butcher


Josie Penfold won’t take it personally if you mistake her for her younger sister, White Fern Molly. She might even be chuffed. “Molly was always tall with muscles,” she says. “I was always tall and super lanky. Life is not fair in that respect!”


Said with love, the hint is there of a friendly lifelong competition between the two gun sportswomen who, together, form a potent pace attack for the Auckland Hearts. So just to clarify, Molly is just in the White Ferns because she has muscles?

“That’s basically it. It’s my lankiness that’s holding me back.. haha! She was born with them. She’s so powerful. I need to get in the gym more, if I’m honest. I’m well off her pace at the moment.”


This sibling rivalry, even on the most excellent of terms, is nothing new in the Penfold household. There are two younger siblings as well, both tall and born sportspeople.

“When we were younger, me and Molly were in a secret competition to see how many sports we could each try. Cricket was one neither of us had tried by the time we were about eight or nine, but Dad had played when he was younger and Mum had played in school, and there was this cricket club up the road — Howick Pakuranga, a big family club in Auckland.“So we fronted up to trial one Saturday morning, and we were stuck. We couldn’t get away from. It was too much fun!”


Thank you, Howick Pakuranga, for giving us the dynamic Penfold pace duo. One of whom, if you sneak onto Cricinfo, is technically an England cricketer, while the other is a Kiwi. An explanation is in order. Both were born in England: Molly (22) in Kingston-Upon-Thames in Surrey, Josie (24) in London.


Josie still speaks with a beautiful southern English lilt, even after having lived in Auckland since she was a little girl and just hasn’t got around to getting her New Zealand citizenship yet. She promises she’s working on it — but it did make it easy for her to go over and play a summer for Kent in 2019, making her T20 and List A debuts there before she got picked up for the Hearts in 2021/22.


Penfold had been a Hearts’ wider training group member towards the endof school, and playing for Auckland had always been a dream. “When I came home from the UK, I got invited back into the wider squad, trained hard and got my contract the next year, while I was at Uni.”

And so a tongue-in-cheek sibling rivalry with accordant banter was reignited all over again — Molly having made her own Hearts debut the previous summer. “It’s always a competition between us in the nets, to be honest,” says Josie. “I know when she’s bowling to me, she bowls just that little bit faster and scarier! I feel like she practises her bouncers on me the most, so fortunately we don’t get to play against each other much. The nets are the place we try to get each other out, or smack each other round the boundary. It’s good fun! Brings out the best!”


Bowling is, of course, an awkward art at the best of times, so super lankiness has not always been a blessing in disguise. Penfold had to be pretty patient through her growing years before it clicked.


“I remember playing netball as well, and just not feeling like I had the coordination I needed. I think that’s true for many taller kids. With cricket, it took me ages to find my rhythm and coordination. It’s such an awkward sport to do while growing, especially bowling!”

But she was never going to give up. Sport is in her bones, to the point where she’s just finished a Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education degree, while having worked part-time as a pool lifeguard as well. Now it’s onto a one-year post-grad in secondary school teaching later this year.


Coaching cricket is a passion: she loves coaching the Glendowie College Girls 1st XI. Playing cricket for a living remains her ultimate, and teaching is good qualification to have in one’s back pocket that seems to fit well in the midst of all that.

“It’s good to have plenty of options,” she says as we move on to the other big development in her jam-packed young life, featuring a cute little café in Clevedon called Little Lane. The space was previously her best pal Marcella’s design and homeware store, but a few customers used to mistake it for a coffee shop.


It planted an idea in Marcella’s head, and that was the beginning of three amigos — Marcella, Josie and their mutual friend Amber - transforming the premises into a genuine café, part-owned by the three of them with Marcella’s homewares biz moving mainly online. Find them on the Gram at littlelane.nz.


“Amazingly it took little more than a month to go from store to coffee shop, it was little bit overwhelming as we had to build the counter top, sink, and so on to standard which was all new to us all. “But we worked every day for a month in June last winter to get it customer ready, painting and waterblasting. Being my off season, I had time to spare in between Uni luckily, and we got it done!


“Now it’s going really well and I’ve found I actually love putting in a shift on a morning before I play Super Smash, for example. Or dropping off the bread on a Tuesday morning. It just gives me something completely different to think about, and I find that better for me mentally than anging around at home all day thinking about the game coming up…”


It is, of course, down a little lane. Following in the great New Zealand tradition of North Island, South Island, West Coast, etc. Check them out next time you’re at Clevedon Farmers’ Market. You might even spot a super lanky sporty barista smiling over the counter.


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