Sophie Devine: We are loving having Suz back
Sophie Devine © Getty Images
An incredible team effort in the first one-dayer and a clinical performance in the one-off T20I against India has helped the Sophie Devine-led White Ferns to get the ball rolling in the best way possible before the World Cup that gets underway in less than three weeks.
The White Ferns romped home by 18 runs in the only T20I and swatted the Indian side by 62 runs in the first ODI to mark themselves out as major contenders in the upcoming World Cup.
The White Ferns had previously won the tournament in 2000, when they were the host nation, defeating Trans-Tasman rivals Australia in a cliffhanger in the final.
Speaking ahead of the second ODI, Devine seemed pretty content with how the side has delivered in the two games contested thus far and believed that these performances will stand the side in good stead heading into the World Cup.
Veteran Suzie Bates looked in blistering touch in the first ODI as she struck her 11th ton in the format and was in complete control throughout the course of her knock.
Devine emphasized the significance of Bates in the side and lavished praise on her.
“We certainly felt her loss, last season not having her here with her shoulder surgery, so to see her come back into form certainly lifts the team; having her opening the batting, she really sets the tone. She is so experienced, and the energy that she brings not only with the bat but in the field as well; we are loving having Suz (Bates) back, and I know that she will be really stoked with the way she helped contribute to the team,” said Devine.
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Medium pacer Jess Kerr was on song in the first ODI as she wreaked havoc and did not allow the Indian batters to up the ante at any stage during their run chase. She looks in excellent rhythm with the ball and has carried from where she left off in the recently culminated Women’s Super Smash 2021-22.
Devine touched upon the importance of Jess and said, “She has been fantastic, and I think for her having a really good diet of cricket over this summer, she obviously had a few niggles at the start of this season. I think she bowled exceptionally well up top, and we know how well she bowled in the T20 as well. She is going to be a really important part of this team; with her inswing, she brings something different to the group. She has been fantastic, to think that she only made her debut a couple of years ago; she has really come along in leaps and bounds.”
With a tight schedule leading into the World Cup, Devine believes that they need to manage the workloads of all the players smartly so that they could stack up well against their adversaries.
Devine, apart from being the skipper of the side, has taken up the crucial role of a middle-order batter (a new role for her) and is one of New Zealand's main bowlers too.
“The middle-order is something a little bit different for me, but again a lot of communication has gone in over the past couple of years around what’s going to be needed for this team, and that’s for me to be in the middle at the death; unfortunately, it was a perfect platform for me to come into in the last game but I probably couldn’t do the job that I wanted to do, so that’s something that I am gonna to have to continue to learn and grow in that role,” added Devine.
Having delivered several match-winning performances opening the batting for the White Ferns, Devine is looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead of her as a middle-order batter.
While speaking about how the transition, she said, “I have played a lot opening the batting of late, so it’s (middle-order role) great for me; it’s helping me grow as a player.”
“With the ball again, we have got so many great options now, when you look at Lea (Tahuhu) and Jess and Amelia (Kerr) back in the mix too, and we have got some quality bowlers on the sideline who can come at any stage, so I am just sort of fitting in where it’s needed. I am just really grateful and willing to do whatever it takes to help this team win games of cricket,” added Devine.