Reaching 100 T20Is milestone was an emotional moment as her teammates made it special, says Sophie Devine
New Zealand had a tough time at the start of the year with results not going their way with them getting whitewashed in ODI series against England and Australia. While their T20I performances were marginally better, they only had the rain-induced 1-1 result against the Trans-Tasman rivals to show in the balance sheet. Skipper Sophie Devine was fighting her own battle and had to take a break from the game in March.
32-year-old Devine returned to the game with the ongoing England tour but things didn’t start well for her and New Zealand went down in the first T20I on her birthday on September 1. Another milestone was waiting for the big-hitting allrounder as she become the third New Zealand player to play 100 matches in the format when she took the field in the second match on Saturday (September 4).
Devine once again won the toss and opted to field for the second time in the series and she got off to a good start in the match with the ball taking the wickets of Natalie Sciver and Amy Jones in consecutive deliveries to leave England struggling at 25 for three inside the first five overs. The hosts did recover from the early blows but coud post only 127 for seven on the board. Devine capped off the landmark T20I with a match-winning fifty as New Zealand reached home with four wickets and ten balls to spare.
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“I felt good, especially with the ball. T20I can be a fickle game. You can feel a million bucks and still not get the rewards. For me, as long as I follow the process and doing what I need to do the results will come. It’s nice to have contributed to a good team win,” Devine said at the post match media interaction on Saturday.
Looking back, Devine feels she has come a long way from the struggles early this year with the break seemingly have rejuvenated her. But it wasn’t easy for her back in March.
“It’s hard to put into words how I was feeling at the start of the year. Mentally I was nowhere near and to try and play international cricket when mentally you’re not at the top of your game, let alone 50 percent, it’s always going to be bloody hard and looking back on it I was nowhere near my best with bat,” Devine said. “Mentally I wasn’t in a position to produce my best either. It’s nice to have been able to step away and to put some things into place around that.”
“It’s nice to have been able to step away and put some play surround it. We all know the environment that we find ourselves in now is bloody challenging. I’m extremely grateful that we are able to continue to play cricket because I know people are doing it really tough around the world.”
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Ahead of the milestone game, Devine had some wise words from her experienced teammates in Amy Satterthwaite and Suzie Bates – Other two players to play 100 T20Is for New Zealand – as they talked about how they care about everyone as a playing group and a team.
“That’s a great thing about this group, I feel so well supported. Obviously, in my milestone game there were some beautiful words spoken by Amy and Suzie, who I’ve played a lot of cricket with,” Devine added.
“It was quite tough to hold back the tears around that because it was quite emotional thinking about it but this group is so special, and the amount of care that is within this group is unbelievable and that’s what going to hold us in good stead moving forward.”
During the break as she was preparing for the comeback, Devine worked hard on many aspects of her cricket with head coach Bob Carter including some technical changes to get better at the game.
“I did a lot of work with Bob Carter, sort of made a few technical changes which is interesting thing at this stage of my career when I probably could have carried on status quo and kept going as I was. But I guess for me, it was always about challenging myself and get better. He saw an area I could get better, it’s long work in progress and still a long way to go,” Devine concluded.