Aotearoa's White Ferns squad to face India in three ODI's starting on January 24th, has been announced and there are a few minor tweaks around the solid core we have come to know and love. Vetetran batswoman Katie Perkins returns to the group, while Bernadine Bezuidenhout comes in as the wicket-keeper to fill a vacancy left by Katey Martin who is unavailable.
The last time we were graced with White Ferns cricket, was the World T20 tournament in which the kiwis couldn't make any waves and were effectively wiped out of the tournament following losses to India and Australia in their first two games. That was a bummer, especially as Aotearoa under-performed at the World Cup and then World T20.
To gain a bit of insight into the White Ferns wider group, I'll compare the World T20 squad to this ODI squad to face India. Of course, they are very different, but it's an interesting exercise to set the scene of who does what etc.
Players in both squads
Amy Sattertwhaite, Suzie Bates, Bernadine Bezuidenhout, Sophie Devine, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Anna Peterson, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu.
Kate Ebrahim, Hayley Jensen, Katey Martin, Jess Watkin.
Perkins and Lauren Downs are the only players who weren't in the World T20 squad, who are now in the squad to face India. While Bezuidenhout is a like-for-like replacement for Martin, Perkins and Downs dominated the women's 50-over competition earlier in the summer with Downs 2nd in runs (323r @ 53.83avg/82.39 in 6inns) and Perkins impressing as a finisher with 4 not outs in 6inns (88avg/90.72sr).
As always, the bulk of the runs will have to come from Bates, Devine and Satterthwaite who are all currently playing in WBBL04. Adding Perkins to the batting line up is crucial considering that Martin was 2nd behind Bates in White Ferns World T20 runs and the loss of Martin's experience is absorbed by injecting Perkins into the middle order.
Kasperek and Kerr will again be crucial as the two White Ferns spinners, along with Anna Peterson and there's a decent chance that all three could play as a spin trio. Satterthwaite's Melbourne Renegades comrade Lea Tahuhu will lead the seam attack. Holly Huddleston and Hannah Rowe will likely compete for overs alongside Tahuhu, as the White Ferns can rely on Devine as a bowling option.
The most interesting thing about the White Ferns over the past few years, has been which players apart from Bates, Devine and Satterthwaite contribute to the run-scoring. There is no shortage of bowling options and wickets tend to be nicely shared between Kerr, Kasperek, Tahuhu, Devine, Peterson and Huddleston depending on who is playing.
Runs are harder to come by though and as awesome as it is to enjoy the world-class performances of Bates, Devine and Satterthwaite, the kiwis have lacked other contributions to genuinely compete with the best teams on the big stage. Martin picked up some of the slack at World T20 and has been a solid contributor behind the big-three, hopefully now we see a youngster chime in.
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Peace and love 27.