White Ferns pad up first in re­turn of na­tional teams

The Timaru Herald - - Sport - An­drew Vo­er­man

New Zealand’s na­tional sports teams have sat dor­mant for more than six months – but that changes today.

The White Ferns women’s cricket team will be the first to fly the flag in a post-Covid-19 world as they take on Aus­tralia in three Twenty20 in­ter­na­tion­als and three ODIs.

Af­ter they crashed out of the T20 World Cup in Aus­tralia af­ter the group stage for the third time in a row in March, So­phie Devine’s side have plenty to prove.

In their sights is their next World Cup – the one-day event that will be held in New Zealand at the start of 2022, Covid-19 per­mit­ting.

It was sup­posed to be just around the cor­ner next Fe­bru­ary and March, but the pan­demic forced a post­pone­ment. Which is just as well, be­cause the White Ferns have plenty of work to do be­fore it starts.

The women’s Cricket World Cup will be the sec­ond of three women’s World Cups played in New Zealand in as many years – as things stand.

Be­fore it there will be the Rugby World Cup next Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber, where noth­ing less than a win for the Black Ferns – the reign­ing cham­pi­ons – will be con­sid­ered a suc­cess.

Af­ter it will be the Fifa Women’s World Cup in July and Au­gust 2023, where the Foot­ball Ferns will be look­ing to win their first match at the event at the sixth time of try­ing.

Some­where in be­tween those two lev­els of ex­pec­ta­tion sit the White Ferns.

They made it to the fi­nal of the one-day World Cup four times out five be­tween 1993 and 2009, win­ning in 2000 on home soil in Christchur­ch. But in 2013, they fin­ished fourth, los­ing to Eng­land in a third­place play­off that fol­lowed a Su­per Sixes stage, and in 2017, they fin­ished fifth.

Since the last World Cup, the White Ferns have played 21 ODIs.

They started with se­ries against Pak­istan, the West Indies, and Ire­land, where they won eight times out of nine, as was ex­pected.

But since then, against Eng­land, In­dia, Aus­tralia, and South Africa, who were the four semi­fi­nal­ists last time around, they’ve won just two times out of 12.

The only se­ries they’ve played in the past 30 months – and the only one they’ve played with Bob Carter in place per­ma­nently as coach and So­phie Devine as cap­tain – was against the Proteas at home ear­lier this year.

They were swept 3-0 on that oc­ca­sion and looked par­tic­u­larly tooth­less as they did so, tak­ing just nine South African wick­ets.

The re­turn of all-rounder Amy Sat­terth­waite from ma­ter­nity leave makes the White Ferns a stronger side than they were last sum­mer, though they are with­out spin­ners Anna Peter­son (per­sonal rea­sons) and Leigh Kasperek (un­able to re­turn from the United King­dom) for this se­ries.

GETTY IM­AGES

The White Ferns are back in ac­tion today against tra­di­tional ri­vals Aus­tralia in a Twenty20 and one-day se­ries.

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