Lees wants an­swers from White Ferns

The Southland Times - - SPORT - BREN­DON EGAN

War­ren Lees has ac­cused the White Ferns of be­ing over­awed in crunch games and fail­ing to deal with ex­pec­ta­tion af­ter their worst show­ing at a women’s cricket World Cup.

For­mer New Zealand wick­et­keeper and men’s coach Lees, who pre­vi­ously coached the White Ferns, said they would be ‘‘ab­so­lutely shat­tered’’ af­ter a crush­ing 186-run loss to In­dia in Sun­day’s must-win fi­nal group match in Eng­land.

New Zealand took an ex­pe­ri­enced side, boast­ing plenty of fire­power to the World Cup, with Lees be­liev­ing it was their best chance to lift the sil­ver­ware since 2000. The White Ferns badly un­der­per­formed, los­ing to Aus­tralia, Eng­land and In­dia, which saw them miss the semi­fi­nals.

Lees ex­pected a thor­ough re­view to be con­ducted and said coach­ing staff and se­nior play­ers needed to be an­swer­able. He said it was a huge op­por­tu­nity squan­dered, given the tal­ent they pos­sessed.

‘‘The girls will be ab­so­lutely shat­tered and the man­age­ment will walk away with a huge ques­tion mark over their heads and so they should. That’s why they get the jobs,’’ Lees said.

‘‘When you lose poorly, it puts a huge ques­tion mark [on their fu­ture].’’

Lees didn’t know coach Haidee Tif­fen well enough to com­ment whether she was the best per­son to guide the team, but pres­sure will in­evitably fall on her fol­low­ing an un­sat­is­fac­tory cam­paign.

He be­lieved do­mes­tic women’s cricket in New Zealand was the strong­est it had been. The White Ferns had been given ad­e­quate coach­ing re­sources and warm-up games to suc­ceed, but hadn’t per­formed to their abil­ity.

‘‘It’s a bit like a spoilt kid. Throw­ing money at your kids doesn’t make them im­prove or be­have.

‘‘It doesn’t mat­ter how much money you spend. If it’s not well spent, you’re wast­ing your time.’’

New Zealand thumped the weaker Sri Lanka, West Indies and Pak­istan sides at the World Cup, but in the games that mat­tered against the lead­ing sides, they didn’t front.

The loss to In­dia was par­tic­u­larly har­row­ing with New Zealand skit­tled for just 79 in 25.3 overs, chas­ing 266. Amy Sat­terth­waite was the only bat­ter to get past 20 in a woe­ful White Ferns’ bat­ting ef­fort.

Lees said the body lan­guage be­tween overs dur­ing In­dia’s game-chang­ing 132-run third wicket part­ner­ship was like ‘‘schoolkids’’ with con­fi­dence plum­met­ing, which car­ried over to their bat­ting.

‘‘One on one, the skill lev­els of our play­ers is right up there and equal to the other play­ers. When we play at our best, we’re the equal of all the other teams. Col­lec­tively, we can’t throw it to­gether.

‘‘We’re per­haps over­awed. We may be overex­cited or tense or ner­vous.’’

Lees be­lieved the White Ferns were too re­liant on skip­per Suzie Bates and Sat­terth­waite with the bat, who look poised to fin­ish their il­lus­tri­ous ca­reers without a World Cup ti­tle.

It is un­clear whether the star duo will be in­volved at in­ter­na­tional level in four years, though hav­ing the 2021 tour­na­ment in New Zealand could be a draw­card. Sat­terth­waite will be 34 and Bates 33.

The ex­pe­ri­enced top or­der of Katey Martin, Rachel Priest and So­phie Devine lacked con­sis­tency, with Priest and Devine both get­ting past 50 only once. Martin av­er­aged just 14 with a high­est score of 21 for the tour­na­ment.

‘‘They’re prob­a­bly what you call flat track bul­lies and I don’t mean bul­lies in a neg­a­tive. They score very heav­ily against the very weak sides and we get a lit­tle bit over­awed by the top two teams quite of­ten.’’

He was be­mused veteran bat­ter Sara McGlashan and Can­ter­bury all-rounder Frances Mackay weren’t selected in the World Cup squad and thought they would have been valu­able ad­di­tions.

McGlashan and Mackay were among the lead­ing run-scor­ers in last sum­mer’s 50-over com­pe­ti­tion, but were sur­plus to re­quire­ments.

‘‘They’re two ques­tions that need to be dis­cussed. How on earth is Sara McGlashan not there?

‘‘That’s got noth­ing to do with per­for­mance or skill lev­els.’’

War­ren Lees says the White Ferns’ se­nior play­ers and coach­ing staff need to be an­swer­able for their early exit from the World Cup.

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