It makes sense that with only a few kiwi wahine playing in the 2019 Women's T20 Super League, the best performing kiwi would be Rachel Priest who has and will continue to be overlooked for White Ferns cricket. Only Priest, Suzie Bates and Leigh Kasperek played a notable role in this year's competition, which when you ponder the bigger picture of women's cricket in Aotearoa reflects the struggles of Aotearoa's White Ferns as playing numbers in England took a massive dip this year.
There was great news that popped up recently regarding the investment in women's cricket from NZC, which is genuinely lovely and should be celebrated. What we can't do is let the fluff cover over the fact that the White Ferns have regressed in recent years, sliding from being competitive with England, Australia and India to leading the chasing pack in trying to keep up with the dominant nations.
This was a major focus over the summer, as I highlighted how the reliance on Bates, Amy Satterthwaite and Sophie Devine had become an issue as for whatever reason - mainly greater attention from opponents - because of the lack of team-wide contributions. Obviously NZC aren't going to highlight how difficult it has been for younger ladies to come into international cricket when talking up their investment in kiwi cricket, but this should be where the greatest impact is felt.
The White Ferns struggles have come with younger players unable to perform at the international level against top opposition, thus greater pressure mounts on the better players. This isn't because younger players aren't good enough and revolves more around the preparation of these players for international cricket. I'd suggest that while certain progress has been made in women's cricket in Aotearoa, the proof is in the pudding with regards to the performances of players coming into the White Ferns team as I highlighted throughout last summer.
What will hopefully happen is that with greater resource for domestic women's cricket, up and coming players will have more resources and greater preparation for international cricket. While women's international cricket has enjoyed immense growth and increased quality, the White Ferns have trended in the opposite direction and this isn't really discussed when celebrating the apparent rise of women's cricket in Aotearoa.
To bring this back around to the T20 Super League, I believe that this is partially why there aren't many kiwi wahine playing this year. Amy Satterthwaite and Lea Tahuhu are having a baby, which ruled them out, but no one else has commanded opportunities in the Super League via strong T20I performances. Especially with the White Ferns struggling, this makes kiwi players less attractive to T20 franchises.
Rachel Priest on the other hand has essentially been shafted from the White Ferns and it was her Western Storm who won the final against Bates' Southern Vipers. Priest finished 4th in runs, with 365 runs in 11ins @ 36.50avg/145.41sr and Priest was one of five batswomen to score 50+ three or more times.
Bates finished 12th in runs with 246 runs in 11ins @ 22.36avg/99.19sr, while also taking 8w @ 35avg/8.31rpo. Bates couldn't manage a score over 50, although in her last four games (semi and final included), Bates put together four-straight games scoring 20+ to help the Vipers get their batting innings off to a decent start.
The other notable character was Leigh Kasperek, who played for Yorkshire Diamonds and finished with 10w in 10inns @ 23.90avg/7.46rpo. The low average came from Kasperek bowling just 32 overs, while most of the bowlers who took more wickets than Kasperek bowled more than 34 overs.
Overall, there were strong contributions from the three prominent wahine in the T20 Super League. Bates couldn't quite be as dominant as she has been in the past and that's understandable as the cricketing world catches up, while Kasperek continues to be one of the most under-appreciated kiwi cricketers given her consistent work with her offies in all formats. These two will again be key figures for the White Ferns, who apparently don't play their next game until late January.
As for Priest, she is the most notable, if not the only kiwi wahine strictly on the T20 circuit. I'm sure Priest would want to be part of the White Ferns and considering the lacklustre performances of Aotearoa in international cricket recently, it's tricky to suggest that Priest should not be in White Ferns squads. The joy here sits in the opportunities available for Priest around the world and Priest is laying the blueprint down of how to be a semi-pro cricketer outside of the White Ferns bubble for kiwi women.
Hit an ad to support the White Ferns and kiwi cricketing wahine chat.
Or jump on Patreon and support the Niche Cache directly. We love our Patreon whanau and serve them up with special stuff.
Peace and love 27.