There was a sad predictability about how the White Ferns T20 World Championship hopes came to an end. Australia (they even claim exclusive ownership of the Southern Stars term) had glided to 70 without loss at upwards of 8 an over and seemed to be looking at something approaching 200.
New Zealand was valiant and plucky in fighting back and restricted them to 153/7. It was gutsy and it was Game On.
Yet you always felt it would probably be just out of reach.
Sure enough that’s how it ended up; after a horror start a 66 run partnership for the fourth wicket, at the required pace, wasn’t enough and the predicted failure happened.
That was not the main reason for the early exit though. Australia is the best team in the competition; it was the loss against India last weekend that sealed their fate. Sure, the tournament format has been rough in how it produced the two toughest games in the first few days, but the early exit is a bit embarrassing.
The game locally and globally has made huge strides towards professionalism in the last few years, and the advances in New Zealand in terms of conditions and support have been well documented. Yet the national side’s performances seem to have gone backwards during that time.
From a distance there seems to be a lot of strange stuff going on with how the squad is being run.
- The captaincy change a few months ago. That seemed pretty random, and Suzie Bates has continued to deliver so it’s not as if there is any white-anting going on. It just seemed strange.
- Anna Peterson’s sudden elevation to the top of the order once the T20 Champs started was equally odd. In T20 cricket in particular you open with your best batting talents (Devine and Bates). Peterson averages 5.91 I T20 internationals.
- Why is Amelia Kerr batting at #10?
- Why are Rachel Priest, Sara McGlashan, Katie Perkins and Morna Nielson no longer involved with the side while plying their trade around the world in various T20 leagues?
Something does not quite seem to be right, and it’s hard to nail what the issues are.
Easier to spot are the symptoms. The fielding today wasn’t at the standard you’d expect. Three catches dropped in 20 overs from a side which, for the first time, has a specialist fielding coach *.
The ill-judged Petersen review today prover costly. Players’ use of the DRS is still evolving, but the main thing we have learnt is that sides low on confidence use it worse than others.
In their defence it is not just New Zealand where the women’s game is growing at pace. Australia has the Women’s Big Bash, England has something similar, and the modernisation of middle class India has meant that it is now socially OK for women to play the national sport. From being a pretty small club, the women’s version of the game has become almost as global as the men’s.
Something isn’t quite right. On the positive side people are commenting about it and asking questions. Ignoring it would be a bigger slap in the face; scrutiny is good.
*It’s a little known fact he was once a football goalkeeper too.