LISTEN: In our new podcast, A Neesh Audience, Black Cap Jimmy Neesham talks to playmakers who’ll be part of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2021 in New Zealand. In this first episode, he chats with White Ferns sisters Amelia and Jess Kerr during lockdown.
Watching the White Ferns miss out on the semifinals of the T20 World Cup in Australia left spectators with a feeling of what could have been. And it left Amelia Kerr intent on rectifying that come the ODI World Cup on home shores this summer.
The T20 group stage included clinical performances from New Zealand against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. But the makeup of the group meant a victory against one of the two powerhouses of global cricket, Australia and India, was essential to progress to the next stage.
Both games followed a very similar script: The White Ferns fielding first and restricting their opponents to gettable totals. India scraped through to 133, while Australia made a more imposing 155. New Zealand fell short by three and four runs respectively.
“If you want to win the World Cup, you’re going to have to beat the best sides in the world,” Kerr says.
“I definitely think from what I’ve learnt, that if we can take into the 2021 World Cup just playing without fear, and backing yourself and backing your own ability and having that buy-in as a team, then we can [win the tournament].”
Kerr herself seems to have that elusive ability to play without fear, demonstrated by her current grip on the world record for the highest ODI score, 232 not out in Dublin in 2016.
Which begs the question: will she find herself higher up the order where so many White Ferns fans would love to see her?
“Growing up I always opened the batting for the teams I played in, so definitely in the future I want to keep getting up the order and I want to bat as high as possible,” the 19-year-old says.
“At the moment I haven’t proven myself against the best teams in the world and taken the opportunities given to me, but definitely right now I’m doing everything I can to get up the order because I want to be a genuine all-rounder in the future.”
Lockdown didn’t dampen those ambitions either. With facilities closed around the country, Kerr and her sister Jess – also a White Fern – were confined to their own backyard with their father, ex-Wellington Firebird Robbie Kerr, giving throw-downs.
“I think for me, coming home from that T20 World Cup has inspired me and given me even more motivation to train,” Amelia Kerr says. “So just in the backyard with Dad I’ve been getting him to throw me balls every day, so his shoulder’s a bit sore! Also all the fitness work, it’s been a great time to really focus on your fitness and just try to stay injury-free.”
With such a cricket focused household, one wonders if there’s much going on away from the cricket field, but the multi-talented sisters seem to have that aspect covered as well.
In lockdown Amelia studied online through Massey University and learned guitar, while Jess, a schoolteacher at Tawa Intermediate, was playing piano.
“It’s a bit of a noisy household!” Amelia admits.
For the still-wounded hearts of New Zealand cricket fans, let’s hope they can make some more noise on the pitch once February – and the World Cup – rolls around.