A cham­pion at two sports

Joseph Ro­manos talks to dou­ble in­ter­na­tional and former Tawa res­i­dent So­phie Devine about the Christchurch earth­quake, land­scape de­sign and play­ing cricket at Lord’s.

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

Was it al­ways sport with you?

Pretty much. I’d lis­ten to my dad and my older brother talk­ing sport over din­ner. One of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries is kick­ing a rugby ball with my brother. The front yard in our house in Tawa had a cricket pitch. We’d roll it with a proper roller. What about school­work? It wasn’t my favourite thing, but I was OK at it. I’ve now got a BA ma­jor­ing in so­ci­ol­ogy.

You seemed to play cricket against boys al­most right from the start.

That’s true. I played with boys up to about the Welling­ton un­der-14 reps. They treated me well. I grew up play­ing against boys like Ricky Joseph, Michael Pol­lard and Joe Austin-Smel­lie and got to know them all. It added a bit of ex­tra pres­sure. I had to prove my­self, and they didn’t want a girl get­ting them out. It really helped my cricket, and I’d rec­om­mend it to any promis­ing girl crick­eter.

So play­ing with the boys wasn’t an is­sue?

Not with the boys, but some par­ents and coaches had a bit to say, about el­i­gi­bil­ity and so on. What about hockey? I be­gan play­ing at Lin­den Park at pri­mary school. I played with the boys in hockey, too, but not for as long. One of my early team-mates was Blair Hil­ton, who’s in the New Zealand team. Were there other sports, too? Pretty much any­thing – bas­ket­ball, vol­ley­ball, soc­cer, ten­nis, squash. I was hope­less at swim­ming, though.

You were such an out­stand­ing school­girl bowler. Was it dif­fi­cult mov­ing into se­nior rep cricket?

I learnt quickly I wasn’t go­ing to be get­ting five-wicket bags ev­ery week. I learnt I had to be smarter about my cricket. Men have more strength, but the top women’s crick­eters are smarter. They have to be. They think about things more.

Get­ting into the New Zealand cricket team at 17, were you well treated by the se­nior play­ers?

Haidee Tif­fen was the cap­tain and she’s be­come one of my best cricket friends. Other se­nior play­ers like Sara McGlashan and Nicky Browne made a real ef­fort, took me un­der their wing. What about hockey? I made the Welling­ton team when I was 16. It’s been fine. You have to prove your- self on the park, and that’s how it should be.

I no­tice you’ve worn Can­ter­bury colours quite a bit lately.

Our fam­ily moved to Christchurch a few years ago, with Dad’s job. I’ve played hockey and cricket for Can­ter­bury. I liked play­ing hockey for them, but it felt strange play­ing cricket for Can­ter­bury and I’m back play­ing for Welling­ton now. It feels more like home.

Were you in Christchurch dur­ing the earth­quake?

Yes, the White Ferns were pre­par­ing for a match. We were in Cathe­dral Square at the time. Five of us were in a car and it started shak­ing. One of the girls in front turned round to tell the girls be­hind to stop play­ing. Then through the back win­dow she saw what was hap­pen­ing to the cathe­dral. It was an in­cred­i­ble thing, the noise, the de­struc­tion, the peo­ple in shock.

That was a huge de­ci­sion to give away cricket to try to make the Olym- pic hockey team last year.

I’d played cricket ev­ery sum­mer for 15 years. I really missed it and I’d still go along and watch. I even turned out for my dad’s 3B team a cou­ple of times.

It must have been tough to miss out on the Olympics.

It was. But I missed the tour be­fore so I knew it was on the cards. Six or seven de­fend­ers were vy­ing for three or four places. I couldn’t feel bit­ter, though. I knew how hard they’d worked and it was awe­some to see them play so well in Lon­don. Are you still eye­ing the Olympics? Very much. Rio in 2016. I want to play cricket and hockey if I can, but it would be great to be part of a big Games team, to be in­volved in things like the open­ing cer­e­mony.

What are the best cricket grounds you’ve played on?

I’ve been lucky. We’ve played at Lord’s a cou­ple of times. That was spe­cial to me, be­cause I’m a real cricket geek. Also the Syd­ney Cricket Ground, the Ade­laide Oval, the Basin, of course. Prob­a­bly the best at­mos­phere was in the West Indies dur­ing the Twenty20 World Cup. That was awe­some. And hockey? Play­ing in Ar­gentina was really cool. Hockey’s a bit of a re­li­gion over there. Hol­land too – that was mas­sive. Do you do much sight­see­ing? I try to, but you have to re­mem­ber why you’re there. I try to not make it just hotel­train­ing-ho­tel-game. It’s good to see what a place has to of­fer. What do you do out­side sport? I did a cor­re­spon­dence course in land­scape de­sign last year. That was hard, but it’s the path I want to go down. I like it be­cause it’s out­side, it’s re­sults-re­lated and it’s not sport. It’s good to have a bit of bal­ance in your life.

Photo: FAIRFAX

So­phie Devine on the 2011 Christchurch earth­quake: ‘‘It was an in­cred­i­ble thing, the noise, the de­struc­tion, the peo­ple in shock.’’

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