She’s a legend of White Ferns past, but now it’s Sara McGlashan’s job to look into the team’s future. 

With over 200 White Ferns appearances across three formats between 2002 and 2016, she’s the perfect candidate to keep women’s cricket moving forward as it navigates a new era. 

McGlashan had one of the longest-running and most successful careers for New Zealand, and was one of the country’s first contracted female players – so she knows just how much the new ‘landmark agreement’ closing the pay equity gap will mean to future Ferns.  

When T20 cricket is contested for the first time at a Commonwealth Games later this month, McGlashan will be one of two assistant coaches for the White Ferns.

McGlashan was also part of history back in 2004, playing in the first ever T20 international – between New Zealand and England. She’d soon become one of the great players of the short-form game, and the top run-scorer at the T20 World Cup in 2010, where the White Ferns lost the final to Australia. 

Today, she’s working alongside former Ferns head coach Bob Carter and under the new head coach, Australian Ben Sawyer, with the White Ferns eager to move on from their disappointing sixth place at last summer’s 50-over home Cricket World Cup.  

It will be the first outing for the White Ferns since New Zealand Cricket announced a new agreement to pay women and men equal match fees, both at domestic and international level. 

The deal means top White Ferns could earn almost double their previous match fees for a year of international games, and players in the domestic Super Smash and Hallyburton Johnstone Shield competitions have the potential to earn five times more than in previous years. 

It’s a game changer for women’s cricket, and takes away some of the financial burden of trying to balance cricket with a career for our women cricketers. 

“It was really exciting news. The equal pay alongside the men with their match payments is really important,” says McGlashan, who was one of the first four New Zealand female players to ever receive a professional contract with NZ Cricket back in 2013.

“From a financial point of view, especially domestically, a lot of the players are working while playing domestic cricket so for them to be reimbursed financially is really important.” 

Sara McGlashan (left) and Claudia Green in camp for the Commonwealth Games. Photo: James Bennett/NZ Cricket

With the occasional Friday afternoon game, current domestic players with full-time jobs have had to sacrifice full days of work for their teams, which is why the increase in pay is so crucial.

“That provides them a means – whether that’s covering wages they’ve had to miss out on by taking leave, or just supporting themselves better financially on and off the field,” McGlashan explains.

NZ Cricket are also increasing the number of women’s domestic contracts in each team from nine to 12, which supports the development of young players – something McGlashan is essential to. 

Her role for the last nine months has been the high performance coach for female pathways at NZ Cricket. Her job involves developing the future White Ferns, including working with the U19 team to contest the very first U19 Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa in January. 

“There’s also the development side of things, trying to create opportunities, whether it’s training or playing for the group that sits above the U19 age group,” explains McGlashan, who made her White Ferns debut at 20 and went on to become one of New Zealand’s most prolific female players. 

“It’s a really exciting role, one that’s fairly new, but something obviously that’s really crucial with where the game is at the moment.”

The White Ferns team for the Commonwealth Games is packed with youth – four players aged under 21 are looking to make their mark on the international game. Eden Carson, Izzy Gaze, Georgia Plimmer and Fran Jonas all received New Zealand contracts for the first time this season after stand-out domestic seasons and are all potential future stars of the game. 

“There’s a lot of talent out there and it’s trying to create an environment the players thrive in,” says McGlashan. 

“We just need to continue to provide opportunities for those players. There’s certainly a lot of good youngsters out there, and we’re already seeing a few of those players coming onto the domestic scene with the Super Smash being televised, which is really good for the game.” 

Young White Ferns Georgia Plimmer, Izzy Gaze and Fran Jonas about to fly out of Auckland bound for Birmingham. 

McGlashan began her own domestic cricket career with Central Districts in 1998, and now jokes there are “too many differences to list” between where women’s cricket is now compared to her days at the crease.

“I guess whatever’s in front of you at the time, you work with,” the powerful middle-order batter and wicketkeeper says. 

“But you’re always fighting for things, and I was part of the group who first connected in with the NZ Cricket Players Association. When you make those firsts, you always hope you’re doing something to help the future generation. And here we are now with what’s just been announced.” 

McGlashan, Sophie Devine, Suzie Bates and Sian Ruck were the first players to receive 12-month professional contracts almost a decade ago. It was part of McGlashan’s contract to work with Auckland Cricket to increase awareness of the female game, help develop female coaches and mentor up-and-coming Auckland players. She’d been working as the national women’s development officer until then. 

“I know the players today hope what they’re doing right now will look even better in five or 10 years’ time for that generation,” she says. “There are plenty of generations who’ve fought for something in time and it’s really cool now they’ve got that equal pay…who knows where the game will be in 10 years time?” 

Sara McGlashan playing for the White Ferns at the 2014 T20 World Cup. Photo: Getty Images

McGlashan played two tests, 134 ODIs (only Bates and Amy Satterthwaite have played more for the White Ferns) and 76 T20s over her 14-year international career, and played domestic cricket for the Central Hinds for 14 seasons. She spent a few years in Auckland before playing overseas in Australia and England. She was a star of the early editions of the Big Bash League, making four consecutive finals with the Sydney Sixers. 

Growing up in Hawkes Bay with two teachers as parents, and an older brother who’d also play cricket for New Zealand, she jokes she was destined to work with people and sports. (She also played top-level football, representing New Zealand at U19s, before giving the game away to focus on cricket).

“I’ve always enjoyed working with people, especially kids, and sport’s obviously played a big part in my life as well,” says McGlashan, who’s of Ngati Porou descent. Brother Peter, who made 15 Black Caps appearances also as a wicketkeeper and spent 12 years at the top of the men’s domestic scene, was a famously vocal advocate for pay parity for female cricketers. 

“I was always interested in heading down that sort of path, unsure where it would take me to start with, but those were my interests,” Sara McGlashan says. “I always tried to do a bit of coaching while playing, which can sort of limit you at the time. But that always gave me enjoyment when I wasn’t playing.”

McGlashan and the White Ferns team flew out of stormy Auckland yesterday, bound for the Birmingham summer and warm-up fixtures against England A before joining the wider NZ Team for the beginning of the Games. That’s something McGlashan never thought she’d be part of. 

“It’s a really cool opportunity for me, and for the players as well,” she says. “You’d mention Comm Games a few years back and never think it’d be an opportunity for a cricketer. 

“To be a part of that bigger New Zealand team, so it’s not just a cricket team, it’s not just our team, it’s all the athletes, will be really exciting.

“We’ve had a few winter camps which have been on the colder side of things, so I think everyone’s really looking forward to getting over to England, where we’ve got pretty good preparation before we head into the village.” 

*The White Ferns open their Birmingham T20 campaign against South Africa on July 30 at 10pm (NZT). All of their games will be televised live on Sky Sport. 

Merryn Anderson is a sports writer for LockerRoom. She has a Bachelor in Communications from the University of Waikato.

Leave a comment