Former White Fern Sarah Tsukigawa uses her cricketing experience and knowledge to provide updates about women's cricket.
The White Ferns have returned from England with two disappointing fourth place finishes from the recent Twenty20 and ODI Quad series. Given these results, the key question is where to now for the national women’s team? What is going to turn their fortunes around and ensure they are again competing to be the world’s best?
Playing catch up
Experienced White Fern Nic Browne believes that the other teams have simply worked harder and it is time now for New Zealand “to put in the hard yards.”
Browne was disappointed with the results but strongly believes that positive outcomes will result from the tour.
“The White ferns lacked adaptability when it came to changing pitch and game situations,” said the Northern Spirit fast bowler. “We are in a rebuilding phase with many young players on the brink of producing something special.”
Performances from Liz Perry, Sian Ruck, Lea Tahuhu and Frances Mackay provided a glimpse of the promising future ahead.
“A focus on basic skills along with fitness will lead to more consistent performances,” Browne added.
Commitment required to be fitter and more skilful
Otago all rounder Suzie Bates surmised that the “batsmen never adjusted,” especially in the Twenty20s.
“In the immediate future all players need to understand that it will take hard work to catch up to Australia and England,” explained Bates.
“Skill and fitness levels need to improve,” and she points to England’s Laura Marsh as an example. “Her progress over the past two to three years is evidence of the commitment and the hard yards needed,” Bates concluded.
As a further challenge, the White Ferns will now be without retired captain Aimee Watkins. The loss will be felt hard with Watkins’s scoring rate, leadership and off spin being game changing and match winning for the White Ferns for a number of years.
A professional approach required
The concern for the White Ferns is not in losing games, but the way they are losing. The failure of batsmen to score at a rate that is going to put pressure on opposition bowling attacks is concerning, especially with the increase in the number of Twenty20 games being played.
The results of the White Ferns can be likened to England’s poor showing at the same tournament in 2007. The following four years involved players having the option of signing ‘A Chance to Shine’ contracts. Players were paid to be involved in coaching teams while their own skills were developed by the national coach who constantly travelled around the country. The results speak for themselves not only in their win rate, but also the way they are playing the game.
Australia introduced contracts that have given their players increased flexibility. It is well accepted within the sport that women’s cricket will probably never be a full time profession. However, if we are to continue to strive for success then players need more financial security and flexibility in training if we are to compete on an even playing field with England and Australia.
In the immediate future players now have their National Action Twenty20 and Action Cup sides to concentrate on before they play a home series in February 2012 against Quad tournaments winners England.