Watching her home country win the Women’s World Cup nine years ago, Suzie Bates would have been one of many girls in New Zealand who dreamed of going to play cricket for the White Ferns at a major event.
Now that she is on the verge of achieving this ambition, she can’t hide her excitement ahead of her side’s opening match against Australia on Sunday.
“It is really exciting. Watching the 2000 World Cup when I was younger in New Zealand, it was always a dream to play in the competition myself,” said Bates.
“It was the first time I’d seen any women’s cricket and it made me realise it was out there and with the New Zealand team doing so well it encouraged me that there would be further opportunities.”
21-year-old Bates is an outstanding all-round athlete, she has already played 19 ODI matches, and she also represented her country in basketball at the Olympics last year.
Reflecting on this, she admits there are some similarities and differences between her experiences at these major events.
“People have asked if I have been excited about competing in this time as I was the Olympics, but it is similar in many ways. The New Zealand management team is very professional in the way it goes about things and being in Sydney is a bit different to being in China,” she said.
“With all the media attraction that this event is getting in Australia, it is just as exciting for me, and we have a good chance in the competition.
“With the New Zealand basketball team we were outsiders and it was more about doing as best we could, but on the performance side in cricket we can hopefully win the World Cup.”
Bates also believes that there are some major differences in the physical and mental pressures of the two sports.
“With basketball you very much go on adrenalin from the warm-up to the finish and you get nervous before you first go on and then nerves don’t come into it,” she said.
“With cricket, there is so much time to think about things and from the mental side it is a lot tougher.”
Bates is expecting a close competition and like everybody expects the tournament to be won by one of the top four seeds.
“We all believe we can beat any side on our day. The India game was a bit of a wake-up call but we all believe we can beat any team here and anything can happen,” she said.
“We have had some really close games with India, Australia and England in the past and we haven’t always come out on top. Whoever handles the pressure best will come out on top.”
She also admits that on a personal note, she is keen to improve her standings in the Reliance Mobile ODI Women’s Rankings, which she believes are an excellent addition to the women’s game.
“The rankings are very exciting for women’s cricket as we have never had that before and aiming to be number one is a goal that everybody can set themselves to achieve,” said Bates.
“I think it gives motivation and it will be interesting to see if they change much during the tournament.”