POST-MATCH INTERVIEW: New Zealand Coach Haidee Tiffen On Batting Selections & Looking Short & Long Term

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.

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POST-MATCH: New Zealand v England – Oh Dear!

When my son was a toddler, the very first phrase he learned was “Oh dear!” and for several weeks everything was “Oh dear!” this and “Oh dear!” that!

I could have hired-him out to the BBC to commentate on New Zealand’s innings today.

It began with a “Double-Oh Dear!” as “Oh Dear! No. 1” – a rank wide full toss from Katie George – was slapped not to the boundary but straight into the hands of Amy Jones by Sophie Devine for “Oh Dear No. 2”. (George at least had the self-awareness to face-palm as Devine walked back to the pavilion!)

George’s next wicket was a demonstration of what she is capable of when she isn’t spraying it for wides – Amy Satterthwaite the victim of an unplayable delivery which took out her off stump.

But the “Oh Dears!” soon continued as Katey Martin – perhaps starting to look like she is a bit out of her era in the professional age – was trapped in front by Katherine Brunt; and it was downhill from there for New Zealand.

Laura Marsh got some big turn to dismiss Suzie Bates, but Bates will feel she should have played it better – she has been out a couple of times cutting this summer – and the “Oh Dear” was then written all over her face as she had to watch her team collapse in epic style, from 75-3 to 83-8, and thence to 118 all out – a sheen of respectability added to the scorecard as Kate Ebrahim and Holly Huddlestone put on 26 for the final wicket as the White Ferns at least staggered to 3-figures.

Earlier in the day Tammy Beaumont and Nat Sciver had shown that it was possible to bat on this pitch, if you did it slowly and patiently; and although it is true that the pitch appeared to deteriorate a bit, it didn’t do it to the tune of the 123 runs New Zealand lost by!

So… where now for New Zealand? Well… Leicester on Friday for starters, where they will try to dust themselves down for a consolation win after a disappointing “winter”.

And then as they fly home, they might do well to remember one thing:

Until a couple of years ago, England used to do these kind of collapses so regularly that we started referring to it as “Doing An England” – now they are World Champions!

However bad it looks now, come 2021 New Zealand could yet be World Champions too.

POST-MATCH: England Coast To Win… And Meanwhile At Headingley

A short while into New Zealand’s innings at Headingley a huge cheer went up amongst the crowd – 2,638 miles away England had scored in their World Cup quarter-final against Sweden in Samara, and with the TVs in the hospitality boxes (and the press box) tuned to the BBC, many of the 2,000-strong crowd in Leeds obviously had half an eye on the action in both of the day’s big games!

The players out in the middle were definitely not unaware of what was going on – “We got goose bumps on the pitch hearing that!” said Nat Sciver afterwards.

Another goal followed for England’s footballers and as they coasted towards what turned out to be a fairly straightforward win, England’s women were doing very much the same. Sciver diplomatically said that New Zealand are “by no means a two-batsman team” but it does rather look that way nonetheless.

Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates put on 70 for the first wicket – the sort of score you’d generally call a “strong platform” – but for New Zealand the platform is built on a middle-order made of sand, and they proceeded to lose 4 wickets for 5 runs in 3 overs, losing not only Devine and Bates, but also Amy Satthertwaite, whose purple patch in 2016-17 – when she scored 4 consecutive centuries – is starting to look like ancient history.

New Zealand’s eventual collapse to 148 all out had a horrible feeling of inevitability about it from the moment Sophie Ecclestone held  a very good running catch to dismiss Devine; and once Katie George had caught Bates off Sciver and Elwiss had trapped Satterthwaite LBW, it was time to start the crane.

This was after England had posted a score of 290-5, which felt slightly under-par at the half-way mark, for which much credit has to go to Amelia Kerr, who was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers, taking 2 big wickets (Amy Jones and Sarah Taylor) and perhaps more importantly going for just 36 runs in 10 overs.

Sciver admitted that England were wary of Kerr:

“Amelia was probably their most attacking bowler, so we were making sure that we took the easy ones against her and cashing in at the other end.”

Kerr was really the difference that meant England didn’t get past that 300 mark; but mention also must go to Katherine Brunt who produced the goods again with the bat to at least get them close – it wasn’t the prettiest cricket, but it was pretty effective, and meant Nat Sciver had more freedom to play her improvisations at the other end, knowing that there were runs coming from both ends.

In the end it was one of those improvisations that did for Sciver – LBW trying to play the “Natmeg” – but with some big boundaries and a wicket that was a bit slow, it was probably the right way to play and after going on to take 3 wickets as well, Sciver was awarded Player of the Match.

As for the White Ferns… unlike Sweden they can’t go home yet – there are still two matches more to play; and they are going to have to play a lot better than they did today or it is going to be a very long plane trip back to New Zealand at the end of next week.

NEWS: England Women Trade Up To Trading Cards

Top England Women cricketers, including Heather Knight, Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver are set to feature in a new set of collectable cricket trading cards, officially licensed by the ECB.

Heather Knight

Heather Knight

There are over 200 cards to collect in total, showcasing players from both the men’s and women’s games. The limited-edition Trading Cards will be available at Tesco, Sainsbury’s and other stores across the UK.

Katherine Brunt

Katherine Brunt

They are produced by Australian sports trading cards specialist Tap’N’Play, who also produce a set of BBL trading cards, which this year will feature 40% women players from the WBBL.

Nat Sciver

Nat Sciver

Premium cricket Trading Card sets have been popular in Australia and India for many years, but this is the first time cards featuring our top women players have appeared on general release in the UK.

THE QUESTION: Are Wickets Always Worth It?

Cricket is a simple game… right? The batting side’s job is to score runs; the fielding side’s job is to take wickets!

Well, imagine the scene:

It is the World T20 Final, and there are 3 overs left: the batting side need 30 off 18 balls, with Annie Accumulator at the crease, currently on 15 off 25 balls.

The bowling side bring back their star bowler, who bowls 5 dots in a row – now they need 30 off 13 balls, and Annie is now on 15 off 30 – a Strike Rate of just 50.

In desperation, Annie takes a big heave at the final ball of the over. It skies up towards the bowling side’s skipper, Rachel Reliable, at extra cover – it is going straight to her – the easiest catch she’ll ever take!

But…

Rachel knows that the next batsman in is Briana Basher – probably the only batter in the world who could hit the now-required 30 off 12 balls. So she takes a step backwards, allowing the ball to bounce in front of her, before hurling it in to the ‘keeper to save the second run.

In the post-match press-conference, after the batting side have fallen 20 short with Annie Accumulator not out on 17 off 35, Rachel Reliable holds the trophy in front of the media.

“What about that catch?” they ask.

“I just misjudged it,” she replies innocently.

And maybe she did (!) but it raises an interesting question.

These circumstances are clearly rather contrived; but there is a situation we do actually see quite often, where a fielder in the deep will chose not to go for a diving catch because if they miss it, it will go for 4 – so they prioritise saving the 4 over (possibly) taking the wicket.

The question is somewhat analogous to a play in baseball called a “Walk”, where the pitcher will deliberately bowl four consecutive “wides” to a batter, in order to prevent them hitting a home run, at which point they have to “walk” to first base – a play so normal in baseball, there are stats on it!

But would it “be cricket” if it happened in cricket?