LockerRoom cricket columnist Kristy Havill gives an insightful rundown of the 15-strong White Ferns named to contest the World Cup on home soil next month.
As the White Ferns squad silently filed into the room during the speeches at Hagley Oval, the audience craned their necks to see who was, and wasn’t, there. Minds were quickly ticking off each player, grasping for the names of those who hadn’t walked in.
Even before the team was officially announced in Christchurch yesterday, social media lit up with the shock omission of experienced all-rounder and deceptive off-spinner, Leigh Kasperek.
The only other revelation was the inclusion of teenager Fran Jonas – but when you look at other top international sides, they all have left-arm orthodox spinners.
White Ferns captain Sophie Devine believes she has the best team to lift the World Cup, in their bid to emulate New Zealand’s successful World Cup winning side of 2000.
“Absolutely, I’ve got this real quiet confidence in this group. Outsiders might look at recent results and say ‘you haven’t beaten the top teams, how are you going to lift the World Cup?’,” Devine says.
“But for me it’s the growth of this group, the depth we are starting to get within it. It’s been a bloody tough side to pick, which is a great position for us to be in.”
The 15 chosen ones have 24 hours to fly home, pack their bags for two months in a hard bubble, to assemble again on Saturday in Queenstown, where they’ll play six matches against India in their final warm-up. Devine has no doubts her team will be able to deliver from their bubble.
“One of the strengths of this team is how close we are. It doesn’t matter if I’m going out to dinner with Fran [Jonas] or with Suzie [Bates]; we feel really comfortable with each other,” she says.
“We’re ready. We’ve been preparing for this tournament for so long now, we’ve just got to back ourselves, go out there and enjoy it.”
To set you up for your watercooler chat (or more likely, Zoom chat) throughout the tournament – at Bay Oval in Tauranga on March 4 and ends at Hagley Oval a month later – here’s a snapshot of each of the brilliant wāhine suiting up in the black strip.
Sophie Devine – captain (Wellington)
Our fearless leader, Devine has been the White Ferns’ captain on a full-time basis since July 2020, and is renowned as one of the most destructive ball strikers in women’s cricket globally. Coupled with her handy right-arm medium bowling, Devine is a huge threat at any stage of the game. Last year was a tough one for Devine as she navigated her way through some mental health struggles at the back end of the 2020/21 home summer. However, she’s since returned to the peak of powers, leading the Perth Scorchers to the Women’s Big Bash League title at the end of 2021, as well as being named captain of the tournament team. Another T20 title was added to her resume just last weekend, when her astonishing 92 off 62 balls and 2-14 off 3.3 overs spearheaded Wellington’s charge to the Super Smash title against Otago. The skipper is fit and firing mentally and physically, and will be looking forward to leading the side at a World Cup on their home track.
Amy Satterthwaite – vice captain (Canterbury)
Satterthwaite is the most experienced one-day international player in the squad, with an eye-watering 133 matches to her name – which happens to be one shy of the NZ record currently held by Sara McGlashan. A glittering career that boasts seven centuries and 24 half-centuries, one-day cricket is arguably Satterthwaite’s best format. Her most recent century came in February 2021 against England in Dunedin, just over a year after giving birth to daughter Grace, with wife and team-mate, Lea Tahuhu. It was a watershed moment in women’s cricket when Satterthwaite was paid her full contract retainer while on parental leave as part of NZ Cricket’s new pregnancy leave policy. Satterthwaite continues to inspire every time she steps onto a cricket pitch, with her brilliant 114 in a Super Smash match against Northern Districts in January the first time a Canterbury Magician has scored a domestic T20 century.
Suzie Bates (Otago)
After missing the entire 2020/21 home summer with a serious shoulder injury, Suzie Bates is back in business with the runs flowing off her bat for the Otago Sparks throughout the recently completed Super Smash. Bates notched up her 250th appearance for the White Ferns across both ODIs and T20s in Taunton on the tour of England last year, and was the first Kiwi woman to reach the milestone. She struggled to find her groove again while opening the batting on that trip, but after finishing as top runscorer across both the men’s and women’s Super Smash competition with 504 runs at an average of 56 per game, she’s primed and ready to have a big impact on the tournament. A former White Ferns captain, she forms an experienced leadership trio with Devine and Satterthwaite, who are starting to hit their stride when it comes to strategising and unpicking the tactics of their opposition.
Lauren Down (Auckland)
It has been a bizarre summer for Down, as the enduring lockdown of 2021 encroached upon her, and the Auckland Hearts’, domestic season. Their first match finally arrived on December 17 after having minimal training together, and since then the team has been on a whirlwind journey trying to make up for lost time. An opening batter, Down has put the Hearts’ truncated preparation to the side and enjoyed a successful four games in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield (HBJ) one-day competition, scoring one century and two 50s to set herself up for the World Cup. Watch out for her athleticism and agility making diving saves and catches in the point region, too.
Maddy Green (Wellington)
Wellington captain Green will head into the next couple of months with runs to her name, a Super Smash T20 title secured, and her Wellington teammates in the box seat to secure a place in the HBJ final later in February. Green has been to the fore with the bat in the one-day format, scoring 265 runs in four HBJ matches, which includes a century and two half centuries. She also possesses one of the safest pairs of hands in the White Ferns side, so don’t be surprised to see her parked underneath the high ball out in the deep throughout the tournament.
Brooke Halliday (Northern Districts)
Halliday, who plies her trade for Northern Districts, but is based in Auckland, is the other player in this squad whose summer has been significantly affected by lockdown. Unable to link up with her ND side, she missed the first four fixtures of their HBJ campaign before slotting back in seamlessly and scoring 106 not out in a win over Auckland earlier in January. Halliday has been a revelation for the White Ferns in their middle order ever since she debuted against England at the beginning of 2021, having now gone on to make two half centuries in 10 innings – including one on debut. Halliday and Satterthwaite are the only two left-handed batters in the squad, and also the only two lefties who have featured throughout the domestic scene for the past number of years.
Hayley Jensen (Otago)
One of the quickest bowlers in New Zealand right now, Jensen has been enjoying a solid domestic season either side of a trip back to Australia to spend time with family. A canny allrounder, Jensen has taken 10 wickets in five Super Smash T20 matches to go with her six wickets in four HBJ matches. She also has the ability to score some quickfire runs when her team requires it, as well as being a talented fielder with her strong throws in from the boundary making many batters think twice about running on her arm.
Fran Jonas (Auckland)
The youngest in the squad clocking in at a spritely age of 17, Jonas wasn’t even born when her teammate Katey Martin made her debut for the White Ferns. Jonas played her first international against England in February 2021, with her left arm orthodox spin bowling providing a point of difference for the New Zealand selectors. Jonas is enjoying a solid summer for Auckland, and regardless of whether she features much throughout the World Cup, she is a huge prospect for many years to come in the future.
Amelia Kerr (Wellington)
A rejuvenated Kerr is in the form of her life after withdrawing from the White Ferns tour of England last year due to mental health reasons. Kerr had only been playing international cricket for eight or so months when she played in the 2017 Women’s World Cup, and now she returns as one of the best allrounders in the world at the age of 21. Kerr is the leading wicket-taker in domestic cricket this summer to date with her leg spin and lethal wrong’uns, with 31 wickets in 15 matches. With bat in hand, she notched up 346 runs in the Super Smash, second only to her good friend Suzie Bates, which included four half centuries in a remarkable run of consistency.
Jess Kerr (Wellington)
Jess Kerr has come into her own as a White Ferns player since she made her debut against South Africa in January 2020. With her prodigious inswing bowling, Kerr is a threat with the new ball in hand and will be looking forward to representing her country in her first one-day World Cup – particularly when she gets to be arm-in-arm with her younger sister Amelia during the national anthem at each match. After struggling with an injury at the beginning of the domestic season, Kerr senior enjoyed a profitable Super Smash season with 18 wickets. She also showed her wares with the bat, striking the ball at an average of 30 and an impressive strike rate of 150.
Frances Mackay (Canterbury)
One of the best cricket brains, male or female, in New Zealand, ‘Frankie’ Mackay will be the first to admit that in a season affected by injuries she hasn’t had her best to date. However, as her own harshest critic and one of the hardest workers in the room, rest assured she will be doing everything in her power to make sure that when the time comes, she contributes for her team and country. Mackay has long been established at or near the top of the run-scoring and wicket-taking charts in domestic cricket, and continues to topple records regularly – her most recent being the first women’s domestic player to reach 100 T20s. With her ability to bat anywhere in the order and her off-spin adding another dimension to the bowling attack, it won’t take much for Mackay to get back to her game-changing ways at the international level given the chance.
Rosemary Mair (Central Districts)
Another young right-arm medium bowler, Mair was unfortunately forced to withdraw from the England tour last year at the eleventh hour with a stress reaction in her left shin. It wasn’t until the Super Smash competition a few months later that Mair turned out for her Central Districts side, and made a good fist of things upon her return taking 12 wickets across 10 matches. Mair had started to cement herself in the White Ferns bowling attack before her injury, so will be looking to reacquaint herself with the demands of international cricket over the next couple of months.
Katey Martin (Otago)
You may have heard her excitable tones in cricket commentary throughout the summer, but Katey Martin will be on the other side of the picket fence, taking her place behind the stumps in the all-important role as the White Ferns wicketkeeper. Martin debuted for the White Ferns back in 2003, and is the only player in the current era to have played a test match. Should she play most, or all, of the upcoming ODI matches in the five-game series against India in Queenstown, Martin will be set to raise her bat for her 100th ODI appearance sometime during the World Cup.
Hannah Rowe (Central Districts)
Rowe enjoyed what was probably her best series in a White Ferns shirt to date when she performed admirably in England last year. Her tall frame has had people excited about her bowling potential for a long time now, and she started to consistently see the fruits of her labour when she took 10 wickets in four ODIs against the reigning world champions. Despite not having the season she would have liked with her Central Districts team, she’ll take confidence knowing that she can perform at the top level.
Lea Tahuhu (Canterbury)
Tahuhu’s reputation as a genuine allrounder went through the roof this summer after some outrageous performances for the Canterbury Magicians, and not just with ball in hand. With the Magicians run chase against Central Districts on life support, needing 31 runs from 12 balls, a swashbuckling innings from Tahuhu (who underwent three surgeries last year for a suspicious mole on her foot) saw the red and blacks get home with a ball to spare. Tahuhu’s 39 off 16 was some of the best hitting the Hagley Oval faithful would witness that day, before she then farewelled 2021 in style by breaking CD hearts again with her match-winning 29 off 10. While she’ll be the leader of the bowling attack with her pace and bounce, there’s definitely a case for her to float up and down the order, depending on where the White Ferns need some firepower.