White Ferns pad up first in return of national teams
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.
The White Ferns are back in action today against traditional rivals Australia in a Twenty20 and one-day series.