New Zealand finally pulled off a win against England this summer, at the 6th time of asking, as a gutsy run-a-ball hundred from Sophie Devine saw them chase a slightly under-par 219, after England were bowled out batting first at Leicester.
We’ve been saying all along in this series that with New Zealand if you get Bates and Devine, you’ve won the game; but we saw the other side of that coin today: if you don’t get Bates and Devine, you’ve probably lost it!
Nevertheless, the questions remain – do New Zealand have enough batting going into the World Twenty20 in November?
Haidee Tiffen, speaking to CRICKETher post-match, is confident:
“I absolutely believe in our batting order,” she says “We’ve got Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine who have been outstanding; Amy Satterthwaite who has been the ICC One Day Player of the Year not so long ago; Maddy Green, who has been our domestic batter of the year this summer been; Katey Martin, who was Player of the Series in our previous series; Leigh Kasperek who has scored a lot of runs domestically; and then Amelia Kerr gets 230 [v Ireland].”
“So we’ve got the batters there – it is just a question of keeping to our cricket smarts and our game plan – building those partnerships!”
The challenge for New Zealand, as it is for any side to be fair, is to find the balance between looking short-term, at the World T20; and long-term at the World Cup, which is being played in New Zealand in 2021.
“We identified that the last couple of series have been ones we wanted to look long term and short term; whereas this was a bit more of a focus on the T20 – we’ve exposed players that have shown that they can be there in the T20 but also be there in 2021.”
“It is an art – sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t; but what we’ve found out about our younger players is really promising, and we’ve just got to keep working hard and developing those players and the balance of the experience as well as the youth has been really positive.”
“Our experienced players probably haven’t had the performances we would have liked in this series but Sophie today showed what they are capable of doing; and we are looking forward to that T20 World Cup.”
One player who has arguably been badly missed when New Zealand have struggled for runs this summer has been Rachel Priest, but Tiffen insists that she isn’t out of the picture in terms of WWT20:
“The door is not closed on Rachel – we’ve given clear feedback about the areas she needs to work on; but I don’t shut the door on anyone – it is just who is doing the work and who is improving their game.”
We’ve seen today that when Devine and / or Bates really turn it on, they are forces of nature who can win any game of cricket you put in front of them – even on a tricky pitch at the end of a long, draining tour, when all bets were against them. If they can do that at WWT20, or longer term in 2021, then the world trophy that Suzie Bates wants so desperately to cap her brilliant career with could still be within reach.