Eighty-one years after it was first contested, the prestigious Hallyburton Johnstone (HBJ) Shield is being reintroduced by NZC this season, as the prize for the women’s domestic one-day competition.

The shield, named after the late politician who donated it, was the pride of women’s cricket in New Zealand for nearly 50 years, before the competition changed to the Hansells Cup following the 1982 Women’s World Cup.

NZC’s GM Domestic Cricket Andrew Rogers said the return of the shield would re-open an iconic chapter in New Zealand’s cricketing history.

“We’ve talked to many players who were involved in HBJ contests and we know how prestigious and sought-after the shield was.

“It’s held in a similar regard to the Plunket Shield and we’re hoping the HBJ Shield’s legacy can help raise the profile of the women’s domestic one-day competition this year, and for years to come.

“NZC would like to acknowledge the New Zealand Cricket Museum’s role in maintaining the shield and for helping us return it to play.

“History is so important to any sport or competition’s identity and with women’s cricket clearly on the ascent – the timing feels right to reintroduce this storied trophy.”

WHITE FERNS and Wellington Blaze all-rounder Sophie Devine said there is plenty of buzz around the current players about the return of the HBJ.

“It’s great to have the shield back and I’m sure it will add a real spark to this year’s competition.

“This summer’s looking really exciting for women’s cricket. We’ve been asking for more games and more profile and now we’ve got it from NZC, so I know all the players will be working really hard to be ready to put it all on the line come the weekend.”

The HBJ Shield’s re-emergence owes a lot to the New Zealand Cricket Museum, and Museum Director Jamie Bell said the Wellington-based organisation takes a lot of pride in preserving the game’s history.

“In 2009, the Plunket Shield returned to play after safekeeping at the Cricket Museum and this year we’ve seen both the Heathcote Williams Shield and now the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield emerge from our care and go back in to competition.

“While it’s great for the Museum to have these items on display it is much more rewarding for us to act as their custodians and see them return to their rightful place on the boundary and in the hands of our best players.”

NZC’s GM Cricket Operations Catherine Campbell played in the final seasons of the HBJ era and said the return of the revered domestic trophy would bring improved context and prestige to the women’s one-day competition.

“It’s fantastic to see the HBJ Shield return because it’s steeped in rich history and tradition. Some of our greatest players have fought for this trophy in the past and I know the current crop will relish the chance to compete for it this year and beyond.

“I’m expecting the WHITE FERNS players to dominate the early part of the competition following their recent tour to the UAE, but with the increased profile and interest in the women’s game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few new players put their hands up.”

The new season of women’s domestic cricket starts this Friday with the first round of the T20 competition, followed by the commencement of the HBJ Shield over the weekend.

Live video scorecards will be available for all matches at nzc.nz.