A Second Title for the White Ferns?

The last time this tournament was in this part of the world it was won by the home team, twenty-one years ago. Will lightening strike twice for there to be a second title for the White Ferns?

There were no big surprises in the announcement of the squad aside the omission of off-break bowler Leigh Kasperek. A mildly contentious selection issue, but in the main this team selected itself. But can they win the cup? Yes.

New Zealand are not considered favourites and many punters wouldn’t have them making the semi-finals but there are a number of key positives that can get this team into the semi-finals. After that it’s anyone’s guess, but you can’t win the Cup if you don’t make the finals and the White Ferns will be there.

Leadership

The leadership team of Sophie Devine (captain) and Amy Satterthwaite (vc) will be playing in their fourth World Cup. Part of that leadership group, former captain Suzie Bates will also play in her fourth tournament. Each of those players have had time off for various reasons and look fresher for the break.

That group also extends to wicket keeper Katey Martin and fast bowler Lea Tahuhu, both of whom have played in three World Cups. That group of five players are the most experienced leadership group in the world. You cannot buy that level of experience.

Home Turf

Not only playing in home conditions but playing in their season. The timing could not be better and one always sees a home team lift in a World Cup. The team leaders know all of the grounds, which way they slope, which way the wind blows and when it comes and goes, the pitch conditions. All of these factors will need to be learned by the visiting teams. For the home team it is second nature.

Three Wins in Their Last Twenty-Two Matches

That’s a positive?! Surely this is in the wrong list? No, not at all. Their last fourteen matches have been against Australia or England, the two best teams in the world. It means the White Ferns have been battling at the highest level. They are hardened by mixing it with these teams.

Compare that with those who also seek a semi-finals spot. South Africa, West Indies and Pakistan have basically just played each other over the last year. They haven’t had to play against Australia or England. For India, a slightly different story, for they have played Australia, England and South Africa. The point of all this is that New Zealand have had the harder lead in of any team. That’s a bonus.

Looking at the…

Squad

Sophie Devine (c), Amy Satterthwaite (vc), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Jess Kerr, Melie Kerr, Frankie Mackay, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu

Runs

It’s hard to go against a batting line-up that has the quality and experience in Devine, Satterthwaite and Bates. There’s four World Cup centuries and eight half centuries. This trio knows how to score runs in the pressure cooker environment of a World Cup and they will score plenty here.

The big issue for New Zealand is getting runs from Kerr (M),  Down, Green, Halliday, Martin and Jensen. All have had good innings but lack consistency at this level. It is vital for the White Ferns that these players fire to relieve the pressure from the above three players.

There is flexibility in the batting – just about every one of those players has opened the batting and there is the bonus of having two left-handers in Satterthwaite and Halliday.

Wickets

Excellent pace and spin options and as you would expect, all are capable of using these conditions to the maximum. There is a lot to like about this pace attack, lead by Lea Tahuhu. She will guide the younger ones and lead by example with her express pace.

Swing bowlers Jess Kerr and Rosemary Mair should thrive in this tournament. Each continues to grow with every outing – don’t be surprised to see either or both in the leading wicket takers for the tournament. Kerr also provides handy runs with the bat if needed. Likewise Hannah Rowe with the bat, but she may find herself missing because the other three are in front of her for selection. Good headache for the selectors to have.

Amelia Kerr could well be the player of the tournament. On her day she is the best leg-spin bowler in the world. The good thing about that is that she knows it. Not arrogant, just confident. The perfect attitude for a leggie. She takes that confidence in the field too where she is outstanding at mid-wicket.

With Mackay and Jonas – there’s only room for one of them to play. One suspects it will mostly be Mackay on account of her batting. It might also be the case that the White Ferns don’t choose either of them as a quick run through of their best eleven makes it hard to find room for an offie. Kerr will play and Satterthwaite can bowl off-spin.

Best XI

Sophie Devine, Suzie Bates, Amy Satterthwaite, Amelia Kerr, Brooke Halliday, Maddie Green, Frankie Mackay, Katey Martin, Jess Kerr, Leah Tahuhu, Rosemary Mair

Semi Finals? Yes

Strong and experienced batting line-up, great variation in pace bowlers and a brilliant leggie – add in the reality that this team is one of the best fielding sides in the world. They’re playing in home conditions. Put this team down for a semi-final spot. Can they win the Cup? You never know!

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