A lot of lessons were learned on the White Ferns’ tour of England last year, losing 4-1 to the reigning world champions. It was always going to be interesting to see if the New Zealanders would adapt and grow, and they’ve done exactly that by storming to a 4-1 series win against India.
Now facing their main assignment – the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup – here are five takeaways from the White Ferns’ demolition job of another finals contender.
1. A thriving batting line-up
It was the bowlers who did the job in England last year, and this time the batters joined the party. Suzie Bates returning to her century-scoring ways, with her player of the match performance in game one, was a highlight, before Amelia Kerr notched up her second ton in the second ODI.
Kerr’s exploits with the bat across the series emphasises the wisdom in promoting her up the order to bat at number three.
The most pleasing thing overall was it didn’t matter who scored the runs – someone always stepped up. There wasn’t a reliance on Bates, Sophie Devine and Amy Satterthwaite. Whether it was Kerr, the aforementioned trio themselves, or Maddy Green – combined with some lower order hitting – different individuals were always contributing.
The fact the White Ferns are now comfortable setting and chasing down big totals is a huge confidence boost.
2. Competition for bowling spots
While the batters take a lot of the limelight from this series, and rightly so, it doesn’t detract from the fact coach Bob Carter has some difficult decisions to make determining his best bowling line-up. Everyone had moments of brilliance, and other instances that weren’t so great – it’s just the nature of the beast.
Rotating the bowlers throughout the five-match series was always going to happen, to give everyone sufficient game time and manage bowling loads, as well as the odd niggle that always crops up.
But how the bowling attack is balanced will no doubt depend on the opposition, the pitch and the conditions as to whether it’s a strong seam line-up or whether more spin will be called on.
3. Fielding concerns
As the saying goes, catches win matches. Thankfully this didn’t quite hold true in the series, as the White Ferns still clinched wins despite dropping numerous chances in the field.
It will be the big work-on going into the World Cup, and no-one knows that more than the players themselves.
Some catches were straightforward, others extremely difficult, but the important thing to remember is no-one ever deliberately tries to drop them. It’s not a lack of skill either, because there were a few absolute screamers taken.
Coupled with a bit more urgency when it comes to fielding balls along the ground and not leaking additional runs through misfields, they’ll be in ship shape.
4. Down… and out
Lauren Down was having an enjoyable series – including a memorable 64 from 52 balls in the third test victory (see celebrating below). But then she injured her thumb taking a catch at point soon after the start of the second innings in the final ODI. She didn’t return to the field and things weren’t looking overly promising with her hand all wrapped up. Now, sadly, Down has been ruled out of the tournament. And the extremely talented young Wellington Blaze batter Georgia Plimmer comes in to replace her.
An advantage of playing in a home World Cup is you’ve got plenty of options to choose from when it comes to calling up injury replacements. Other teams have a couple of travelling reserves with them, but otherwise they are extremely limited due to players having to complete MIQ, and navigate the difficulty associated with acquiring spots in quarantine.
Plimmer has always had big raps on her, and even more so after a breakout domestic season where she was given more opportunities to bat up the order and attend some White Ferns camps. Whether she walks straight into the starting XI is another kettle of fish – it seems unlikely they’d chuck her straight off the deep end into the pressure cooker of a World Cup against a top side.
This may allow the White Ferns to play another allrounder instead to help solve the bowling selection headaches.
Molly Penfold joining the squad as a travelling reserve is also a great call, to take some of the strain off the rest of the bowling cartel after a busy fortnight.
5. All hail Amelia Kerr
Not only should we be celebrating the fact the White Ferns have completed a comprehensive ODI series win against a world class side, but let’s also take a minute to acknowledge the incredible individual performances by Amelia Kerr.
After going to hell and back in 2021 with her mental health struggles, Kerr has emerged through the other side even better than before. She scored 353 runs at an average of 117.66, striking at 97.51, including one ton and three half-centuries – the most runs in a bilateral ODI series against India.
It only took her 46 matches to reach the coveted double of 1000 runs and 50 wickets – equal third-fastest with Carole Hodges of England.
She took seven wickets through some tidy spells of bowling, and to put the icing on the cake she also took an astonishing nine catches – a new record for a bilateral ODI series.
Performances with these numbers in a series don’t come around very often. Let’s appreciate it and acknowledge it for what it is – history-making.
* Watch Amelia Kerr talking to Kristy Havill and Jimmy Neesham in the CWC22 with Jimmy and Kristy vodcast here.