A crushing defeat to Australia in the Cricket World Cup has left the White Ferns under must-win pressure for the remainder of their round-robin games to keep their hopes alive. But, as Suzanne McFadden writes, another headache could make that even more difficult.
It should have been a day Katey Martin would never forget – for all the right reasons.
Playing her 100th one day international for the White Ferns – a feat few New Zealand cricketers have achieved – and doing so at a World Cup, at home, against Australia, in front of a loud sell-out crowd (well, around 2000 in the era of Covid). Priceless.
Not long after the Australians were sent in to bat, the 37-year-old keeper Martin took a catch behind the wickets to send back captain Meg Lanning for five, in Hayley Jensen’s first over. With the next over, Australian dangerwoman Rachael Haynes was toppled by Lea Tahuhu, and the World Cup favourites were struggling at 56/3.
When the White Ferns walked off the field before beginning their chase of 270, “Marty” – a White Fern for 19 years – would have been feeling confident, with her team-mates.
Sure they’d let the unbeaten Australians back into the fight when they’d had them on the ropes. But they’d knocked off similar chases this summer, they all knew the way the fast and true Basin Reserve outfield played and the mischief the brisk south-easterly was making (other than forcing the Aussies to wrap themselves in towels to stay warm).
“If we could keep wickets in hand, it was certainly a chase we were comfortable we could get,” White Ferns captain Sophie Devine said.
Yet when it came to Martin’s turn to bat in the 12th over, the White Ferns were reeling at 35/5, and what had looked like a surmountable ascent suddenly seemed like the fearsome Caroline Face of Aoraki Mt Cook.
Out on the pitch, Martin had a brief chat to Amy Satterthwaite, who was on seven. On the second ball she faced from Darcie Brown, Australia’s teenage quick bowling prodigy, Martin almost chopped the ball onto her leg stump, but it ran down to the fence at fine leg instead.
On the fifth ball from Brown, Martin was given out LBW. But knowing she’d got the slightest edge of her bat to it, the White Fern appealed and the decision was overturned.
Unperturbed, Satterthwaite and Martin tried valiantly to establish a partnership that would completely turn around New Zealand’s fortunes, in the face of a rampant Australian bowling attack.
Slowly the batting pair built momentum. At the end of the 19th over, with New Zealand needing another 200 runs for victory, the team’s physio came out onto the field to see Martin. It wasn’t obvious what was wrong. They talked for a while, but she carried on.
In the next over, Martin missed a full-toss from Australian spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington that hit her on the front foot. She barely looked at the umpire’s rising finger as she turned and walked off, this time knowing she was out, for 19.
She and Satterthwaite had added 38 runs together – in what would be the highest partnership in New Zealand’s innings. But, as White Ferns bowling coach Jacob Oram put it afterwards, “it was a bridge too far.”
Next ball, Wellington enticed Jensen, the new Fern at the crease, to push it straight into the hands of Tahlia McGrath at cover. Wellington was on a hat-trick and the Australians were completely in control (although Satterthwaite bravely fought on to 44).
Instead of being Martin’s celebration, Sunday, March 13, became Australia’s century party – their 100th ODI victory over New Zealand. And a record thumping at that.
It’s not certain why Martin sought medical attention during her innings.
“It was an interesting one. I know she had a bit of a headache and was a bit dizzy,” Oram said afterwards.
“I just hope it’s not anything like concussion that becomes a multiple-day thing, because we need her for the South African game on Thursday.” Otherwise, Maddy Green – as the likely back-up keeper – would have to take up the gloves.
The 141-run loss – New Zealand’s biggest defeat to Australia in World Cups, and their second heaviest of all time – could mean the White Ferns need to win their next three games to make it to the semifinals, and possibly have another shot at the Australians.
“So it’s not an ideal position to know that every game is potentially – and that’s a key word – must-win, but we’ve found ourselves losing two out of four and it’s just reality,” Oram said. “So we’ve got to suck it up and make sure that we’re able to win the rest of the games, so we take the run-rate out of contention, and we just get through based on points from winning games.”
It was always going to be a tall order to beat an Australian side with so much depth in both batting and bowling, and the confidence of an incredible ODI record behind them (now 32 wins and one loss since 2018).
And a few special individual performances locking in their victory, too.
Only four New Zealand batters made it into double figures, compared with five Australians contributing 30 runs or more to their tally – rockstars Elysse Perry and Tahlia McGrath both scoring half centuries in their 101-run fightback in the second half of their innings.
But the most astounding and entertaining contribution of the day came from the bat of Ash Gardner, who showed she hadn’t lost an ounce of power coming straight out of her 10 days in isolation for Covid. Former Australian captain Lisa Sthalekar called it “happy hour” as Gardner pilfered 48 runs off just 18 balls – four fours and four sixes among them.
Gardner admitted having found it tough watching from her hotel room, dealing with mild Covid symptoms, as her team-mates notched up their first two wins of the tournament. But she also revealed she’d found herself puffing in the outfield, with a “really heavy chest” at times during the game. But she got through it (taking 2-15 from her brief bowling spell too) with a lot of confidence.
“[In] my first training session yesterday, I hit the ball pretty badly and I was pretty frustrated with that preparation going into today,” she said. Look out for what she can achieve with a few more days back in the outdoors.
Darcie Brown, who turned just 19 last week, proved why she’s regarded as one of the most exciting fast bowling talents on the planet, with her well-controlled spell of swing fetching 3-22, and removing two of the White Ferns big guns – Suzie Bates (16) and Amelia Kerr (1) – in the first eight overs.
There were moments of brilliance the White Ferns will remember – none more so than Maddy Green’s miraculous mid-air catch, not far inside the boundary, dismissing Perry on 68 when her partnership with McGrath was looking unbreakable.
That was one of three wickets (for 53) for Tahuhu – who has now taken the most wickets at this World Cup (nine), reached the fastest speed (123 kmph) and is the equal highest wicket-taker for the White Ferns in ODIs, alongside former captain Aimee Watkins.
There was another amazing piece of fielding from Frankie Mackay to run out Wellington in the final over.
And don’t forget, Katey Martin became only the the 11th White Fern to reach the milestone of a ton of ODI appearances – and nothing can take that away from her.
MEANWHILE IN THE WORLD CUP:
India bounced back from their loss to the White Ferns, handing the West Indies their first defeat of the tournament in Hamilton on Saturday. Centuries by Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur helped India set the West Indies a World Cup record chase of 318, and the Windies fell short by 155 runs – despite an injured Deandra Dottin’s gutsy contribution of 62.
Indian medium-pacer Jhulan Goswami also became the most successful bowler in World Cup history – Anisa Mohammed her 40th scalp.
Pakistan were denied their first World Cup win in 17 games when they dramatically lost to South Africa by six runs on Friday. Laura Wolvaardt’s 75 runs saved a below-par Proteas’ total of 223. Despite all-rounder Nida Dar’s 55, Pakistan couldn’t get on top of South Africa’s disciplined bowling.