Moments you want to play are ones where you bowl the last over or hit the winning runs: Amelia Kerr

Amelia Kerr © Getty Images

Born just two months before New Zealand won the Cricket World Cup in 2000 at home, she has now played 82 international matches and has taken 99 wickets across formats. She has been to one Cricket World Cup, two T20 World Cups, made the world take notice of her with a world record-breaking feat at the age of 17. She was at the heart of New Zealand’s first round exit from the last global T20 event and courageously decided to take a break from the game for mental wellbeing. Amelia Kerr has seen it all at the age of 21.

As New Zealand prepare themselves to host yet another home World Cup, she will be someone who will be in the thick of things. We caught up with Amelia as New Zealand Cricket signed a deal with Amazon Prime Video to live stream their matches for the next five years in India.

In an exclusive chat with Women’s CricZone, the leg-spinning allrounder talked about her growing up years, playing with her sister Jess Kerr, her mental health break, the expectations going into the Cricket World Cup 2022 and more.

Excerpts:

You come from a cricketing background with your maternal grandfather Brue Murray, father Robbie Kerr, mother Jo Murray all playing cricket at various levels. Was cricket something of a default choice for you to take up?

I was born into the family a little bit with the cricketing gene, but growing up (played) lots of backyard cricket with all my cousins. But my parents never made me play any sport. I grew up playing lots of sports and fell in love with the game cricket. I am just fortunate enough to have a family that knows a lot about the game and they are very supportive of what I do.

There was no added pressure at all. My family is very supportive of whatever I do, and I’m sure they are pretty happy that I chose cricket. I absolutely love the game and they support that. I am grateful for that and it is nice to have family and mentors that know a lot about the game.

ALSO READ: Grandmaster Leigh Kasperek

How was your progression to the Wellington side and how helpful was it to have represent a star-studded side?

I was very young when I made it to the Wellington team. As a kid, I always looked up to Sophie Devine, so getting to play alongside her when I was 14 and play alongside a lot of White Ferns as a young kid and see how they go about their business was special. It was awesome to have role models growing up. I think that was so important. Now with the women’s game growing even more, I think there are more young kids out there with role models. I learned a lot and I’m very lucky to have been surrounded by so many world class cricketers and incredible people as well.

Amelia Kerr in action for Wellington Blaze © Getty Images

You had lot of early success in international cricket both with bat and ball, did that help settle in the international arena easily or did it set unrealistic expectations?

I always see cricket as a game I love and I love playing it, so I don’t get too nervous or feel pressure. The moments you want to play are the ones where you want to bowl the last over or hit winning runs, that’s what you train for. Since I love the game so much and get so much enjoyment out of it, I don’t necessarily see it as extra pressure.

I guess the success I’ve had so far, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do without my support network or my coaches, family and my teammates. So it’s definitely been a team effort and I’m looking forward to hopefully having a long career.

Whenever anyone talks about Amelia Kerr, the first thing they talk about is that 232 and the all-round day you had with a five-wicket to boot? How do you remember that day looking back at it now?

It was a special day. That was surreal. I got the opportunity to open the batting and fortunately batted the whole 50 overs. I think everything seemed to fall into place and it went my way. It was a very special innings and I had some great partnerships along the way with Amy Satterthwaite and Leigh Kasperek.

I can’t say that’s going to happen too often or ever again. But it was a very special day and it was nice to be able to celebrate it at the end of the day with your teammates.

In the past you talked about taking more responsibility with the bat and since then you have been red hot form in that aspect with some terrific performances in Super Smash and HBJ Shield in particular. How do you see evolution of your batting?

I’ve always wanted to be a genuine allrounder and I think as I’ve gotten a bit older, I’ve gotten a bit stronger and I guess more mature about the game. I think that’s where the batting intelligence comes, and I’ve done a lot of work on it.

It’s nice to have had some consistent opportunity now at the top of the order. I would love to be able to contribute in all facets of the game and to be a genuine allrounder now. So I think whether it’s with the bat or the ball or in the field, it’s just giving you a chance to get yourself in the game and have a real impact on it.

ALSO READ: Behind the helmets, bats and pads, there’s a person: Sophie Devine

You showed immense courage by taking a mental health break, speaking in depth about your mental health issues. How hard was the break and how it helped you comeback fresh? How helpful was everyone – NZC, teammates, family during the period?

It was very important for me to take that break. It wasn’t necessarily a break away from the game as I was still training lots, but a break from the bubbles, just time at home to work on a few things which I needed. I’m feeling very refreshed now. We’ve got a huge summer with playing India in February and then a home World Cup, which is pretty special. So, there are some exciting times ahead and I can’t wait to be back playing for the White Ferns, doing what I love.

Everybody was very supportive of me, my family and New Zealand cricket. I’ve been very lucky with the support I’ve had from everybody around the break and I wouldn’t have been able to hit that break and made the progress I did make, if it wasn’t for the support of the people.

Jess Kerr told me how you have been an inspirational figure to her as a cricketer. How was it growing up with her while your cricketing journey was evolving as well?

It’s very special to play alongside my sister Jess. We are very close and we grew up playing a bit of age group stuff together. Then she stopped cricket to do running and then saw the light and came back to cricket. To represent Wellington together is very special and now to play for New Zealand together, there’s nothing better than running out on the field next to your sister, singing the national anthem next to her. It’s awesome to see Jess doing so well, especially in the recent tours. So, very, very special to represent your country with your sister.

Amelia Kerr (L) and Jess Kerr (M) © Getty Images

Amelia Kerr (L) and Jess Kerr (M) © Getty Images

New Zealand struggled in recent times in international cricket. How do you see the team’s preparation going into the home World Cup?

It has been a tough few years for the White Ferns, I think. We have had a few players out with Sophie having her break. I’ve had my break. Suzie (Bates) had a shoulder injury, but I think for us, it’s been great that we’ve been able to play more cricket recently. It’s about finding the combinations and just having the belief to go out there and express ourselves. I think with a home summer and a tour against India, that’s great preparation leading into a World Cup. Hopefully we can put on a show, entertain the crowd and do New Zealand and ourselves proud.

The best of New Zealand cricket is now going to be on Amazon Prime Video. How do you think fans will respond?

I think the fans will be very happy that we’ve got a partnership now with Amazon Prime. They’re one of the biggest companies there is, so it’s an amazing opportunity and it’s just going to help grow the game globally. So, we are very fortunate to have that partnership now with Amazon Prime.

What is your favourite sporting documentary or series on Amazon Prime Video?
‘The Test’, I watched that last year, and I thought the insights you get from going into another team’s changing room. That’s an amazing documentary, so I love watching that.

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