By Aiden McLaughlin
When the White Ferns squad and coaching staff assembled in Mount Maunganui prior to departing for their tour of England, they had company – Spark Sport had a crew there to speak to them and film what happened. The result is a behind the scenes offering called ‘White Ferns: Will To Win’.
Available to Spark Sport subscribers in the normal way, it’s also available on their free to access YouTube channel and has three parts:
‘Embracing the Challenge’
With disappointing recent results and performances, part one looks at the diverse backgrounds of the players as they strive to have a united, professional approach to their preparation. Lauren Down says:
‘We’re in a fortunate position where we’re heading towards being a fully professional side, but there still are obviously girls in the team that have other responsibilities outside of cricket; some are still holding down full time jobs, some are holding down part-time jobs, we’ve got people who are studying, so there’s a real mix in the group.’
Amy Satterthwaite continues:
‘To me there’s different elements of professional; there’s the professional side that people probably see quite easily in terms of money and in terms of whether it’s a full time job or part-time job, but there’s also professional in terms of the way you go about your business and whether you’re still working, still studying, or full time cricket; you can still be 100% professional in the way you go about your training, your day to day stuff to do with the cricket – for me, that’s the most important part, how you hold yourself and the professionalism you bring to everything.’
We get to see training drills and net sessions where honest feedback between players is imperative; there’s also acknowledgement that the summer results against England and Australia simply weren’t good enough. At one stage, Coach Bob Parker pulls the group up for a poor 30 minutes of practice:
‘It’s not acceptable for a team that’s heading towards trying to win the World Cup in eight months time….we need to hear that, we need to know that that wasn’t acceptable.’
Part two sees captain Sophie Devine open up about her battle with mental health, a battle that saw her miss the last two games of the T20I series against Australia last summer and the ODI series that followed:
‘I didn’t want to admit to myself that maybe I was struggling and there certainly were warning signs but I pushed them to the side, and maybe it’s a Kiwi thing as well; she’ll be right, keep marching on and it got to a point where I wasn’t alright and I couldn’t handle it and I wasn’t able to do a job for my team.’
Devine acknowledges that she has a long way to go and although she hopes it won’t happen again, she’s realistic that it could happen again:
‘It affects so many people and it’s just so important to speak up and I guess I was lucky that I had people around me to be able to talk to and support me and help me on my journey back.’
The importance of developing a strong team environment is clear – whereas in the past the senior players have done a lot of the talking, now it’s important that everyone has a voice and develops the mentality of a leader – ownership of one’s role within the team is vital.
The opening of part three has the following words on screen:
‘Over the next twelve months the White Ferns take on England and India, play in a home World Cup and Women’s cricket debuts at the Commonwealth Games’
Katey Martin says:
‘We need to compete, we need to be harder on ourselves, in the game, at training. We need to get our skill sets better, our fitness better and understand the game tactically more. We know there’s going to be pressures playing a home World Cup; we know the boys have gone through that and they really embraced it and that’s something we need to embrace.’
It’s a big year for the White Ferns with two pinnacle events as well as those England and India encounters – the indications in ‘Will To Win’ are that they certainly have the necessary intent and are heading in the right direction, but now they have to show that where it matters – out in the middle.
*’White Ferns: Will To Win’ is available now via Spark Sport and the Spark Sport YouTube Channel. The White Ferns T20I and ODI tour of England starts on 2nd September (NZ time) and will be broadcast on Spark Sport.
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