Thanks to White Ferns manager Helen Mahon-Stroud for the write up - you can see behind the scenes video and more on the White Ferns' Facebook page.
We arrived into Dhaka at night to discover not only a large population of people at the airport to greet us, mainly armed forces, but also a ferocious population of local mosquitos. It only took a few minutes in the VIP arrival hall for the team to be frantically searching bags for the insect repellent.
The process of passing through customs and immigration was relatively quick, unlike NZ no bag scanning or bag searches for food or undeclared items. Once the bags arrived into the arrival hall they were loaded onto lorries for delivery at the hotel.
Somehow in between our arrival at the hotel and the luggage arriving was a difference of five hours. By the time they arrived at 12.30am most players had opted to go to sleep and retrieve bags in the morning from the team room.
The hotel did have three restaurants, a well equipped gym, large pool and garden area with 600m running loop which gave the players plenty of scope to move about.
During the five days in Dhaka we played two warm up games against India and England with mixed results. Trainings and games were an hour or an hour and a half bus trip dependant on traffic, with plenty of intriguing sights and sounds along the way.
Boredom was never a factor on the bus given the population, pollution and constant amazement at how the local people live in such a challenging environment, reminding us all how fortunate we are to live in such a westernised clean green country.
After five days we transferred to Sylhet. Training is held at three different venues, the new Sylhet International Stadium, prior to the start of the tournament, the Sylhet Divisional Stadium, obviously the main stadium until the new International Stadium was built in 2013, and the Sylhet Cadet College, all a maximum travel time of 20 minutes away.
Sylhet is a very poor area, in the hill region and has a large number of tea plantation estates. Interestingly enough Pip Greenwood, (White Ferns Physiotherapist)'s grandfather worked on a local tea estate between 1945 – 1952 following World War 2. Pip’s mother spent these years living on the tea estate before returning to the UK with the family in 1952. After some research Pip discovered the tea estate is about 1 km from the newly built International Cricket Stadium and we drive past it each day.
It is not open to the public but the neighbouring estate is, therefore we managed a team outing to the Malnicherra Tea Estate, hosted by Syed Ragib Ali, a very well known social philanthropic humanitarian. We were given a tour of the tea estate, factory and of course treated to tea and cake in the historical bungalow by the garden.
As you will know from our results on the park, we are progressing well towards the semi-finals.
The win against Australia in the first pool game was perhaps a tournament defining moment for us. As the Australians are defending World Champions to get that first win over them set us in good stead to play Ireland and Pakistan.
The highlights of the win over Australia were with Nicola Browne and Katie Perkins forming a solid partnership midway through the batting order to push us home, followed by fierce defence in the field, and an outstanding display of bowling. You should have seen Holly Huddleston’s expression taking the first Australian wicket with the first ball of the Australian innings.
The games against Ireland and Pakistan saw Captain Suzie Bates take control with the bat and post Player of the Match performances, 68 against Ireland and 96 not out against Pakistan.
Holly Huddleston and Felicity Leydon-Davis, the young guns recently introduced to the team have continued their fine form from the home series wins over the West Indies with some excellent bowling displays.
The third game against South Africa on Monday night will be similar to a quarter final. To date in pool play they have shown ability both in batting and the field therefore there will be no room for complacency.
The weekend will be spent training, recovering and training and recovering through to the game on Monday night.
We wish the BLACKCAPS all the best with their game against Sri Lanka, we have a large screen in the lobby café where we gather to watch them play. One of the best sights on the night drives to and from the stadium is seeing large groups of people crammed into tiny shops on the sides of the road watching TV screens of the T20 World Cup games. This country really is cricket mad, from the alleyways to the corporate boxes, and a hell of a lot in between.