SWOT analysis: Will it be second time lucky at home for The White Ferns?

Rupesh Kumar
28 Feb 2022
SWOT analysis: Will it be second time lucky at home for The White Ferns?

White Ferns © Getty Images

The White Ferns are one of the three sides, including Australia and England, to have featured in all the 11 editions of the World Cup. With four final appearances and one title to their name, they have done consistently well in the tournament.

Led by Sophie Devine, the team will be looking to emulate the success story of Emily Drumm's side that trumped Trans-Tasman rivals Australia by four runs in the nail-biting final in 2000. Although occupying the fifth position on the ICC ODI rankings with 98 rating points to their credit, the side is way better than what their numbers suggest.

Strengths

Peaking at the right time

There was some excellent cricket on display throughout the series from the Sophie Devine-led side as they recently vanquished India 4-1 in a five-match ODI series. The senior pros in the team led the charge and the non-regular faces in the side picked it up from there and made full use of every possible opportunity that came their way. The win against India was exactly the kind of boost the hosts wanted before the rumble.

Top-order in Blazing Form

The top-order is in red hot form and is therefore giving an impregnable look to the batting line-up that comprises names like Suzie Bates, Amy Satterthwaite, Amelia Kerr, and Sophie Devine. They piled on the pain for India in the recently concluded series and are a major reason why the hosts are being deemed as one of the favourites to win the title.

Being Hosts

Playing at home is one of their biggest advantages and certainly adds to their overall strength. New Zealand is one of the toughest places to tour as a side, predominantly because of the wind, as it picks up a lot of momentum and can fluctuate wildly during the games. 

Additionally, the nature of the surfaces on offer is entirely different from the rest of the world and can turn out to be really tricky at times for the visiting teams. And since there is a dearth of players in the other seven participating sides who have played in New Zealand before, it gives a massive upper hand to the hosts.

Amelia Kerr

Well, cricket is not an individual sport and hence individual brilliance doesn't always count for much. But if you are racking up runs in every outing and providing your side with crucial breakthroughs, then that changes the narrative. 

Amelia amassed a total of 353 runs in the recent ODI series against India at a jaw-dropping average of 117.67 and gave them no respite whatsoever. But it is not only the number of runs she got but how she got them that defines her impact. She scored her runs at an astounding strike rate of 97.51 and also bagged seven scalps in the series. Interestingly, New Zealand have won all the games when Amelia has gone past the half-century mark.

ALSO READ: New Zealand batting unit clicking at the right time ahead of the World Cup

Weaknesses

Inexperienced bowling attack

Something which clearly stands out as a potential weakness in the New Zealand squad and makes them look vulnerable is the lack of experience they have in the bowling department. There will be a lot of pressure on Lea Tahuhu to deliver as the leader of the attack, the other specialist bowlers in the squad, apart from Frances Mackay, do not have much experience. 

Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, and Hannah Rowe have in total played 93 ODIs and are undercooked in terms of match experience.

The decision to drop right-arm off-spinner Leigh Kasperek might cost the White Ferns. Since the 2017 World Cup, she has taken 42 wickets, the most by a White Fern, in just 26 games at an outstanding average of 21.26.

Unsettled batting order

The recent series against India answered a lot of questions for the hosts but a few remained unanswered. There is no clarity regarding who is going to open the innings with Suzie Bates, will it be the skipper herself or Maddy Green.

In addition to that, New Zealand do not have a player who could be termed as their designated finisher. In the recent series against India, they experimented a lot with the batting order, which has led to a lot of confusion. Finishing games is a specialist's job and because they didn't give someone an extended run as the same, it has created a lot of doubts. Will it be Brooke Halliday, Katey Martin, or Frances Mackay, we don't know the answer yet.

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Opportunities

Second time at home?

The White Ferns were not the hot favourites to win the World Cup when they were the hosts last time around. But a spirited side under the adept leadership of skipper Emily Drumm bagged the title.

22 years later, New Zealand have the opportunity to repeat the heroics of 2000, and claim the World Cup for the second time as the host nation.

Threats

A thumb fracture ruled middle-order batter Lauren Down out of the World Cup making the lower middle-order of the side look slightly penetrable. All the experienced batters bat in the top four for New Zealand, which accounts for a lack of experience down the order, especially at five and six.

Barring the recent series against India, the hosts had a miserable time since the 2017 World Cup. They had lost all the previous three series at home against South Africa, England, and Australia respectively, and two out of those three defeats were clean sweeps. Hence, they do not stack up that well against some of the top sides in the world even while playing at home.

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