Sophie Devine, the hard-hitting all-rounder, has been named captain of the New Zealand women's ODI and T20I squads ahead of their series against South Africa.
She takes over from Amy Satterthwaite, who is on a break from the game to have her first child.
Devine, 30, has been in a spectacular form in the past few months, topping the Women's Big Bash League run charts. Her 769 runs in that tournament for Adelaide Strikers came at an average of 76.9 and strike-rate of 130.33. Her 29 sixes in the edition were the most by any batter, with no one else striking more than 19. She's carried that touch to the home domestic season with Wellington Blaze, topping the sixes chart as her side have made it to the final of the Super Smash.
The ODI squad for three ICC Women's Championship matches at home against South Africa, starting on 18 January, includes a return for veteran wicket-keeper batter Rachel Priest and a call-up for Jess Kerr, the sister of leg-spinning prodigy Amelia.
Priest, 34, last played an ODI for New Zealand in the 2017 Women's Cricket World Cup, but consistent numbers in T20 leagues around the world saw her return to the national frame and regain a contract last year.
Jess, the elder sister of Amelia, has been rewarded for her strong domestic performances, just ahead of her 22nd birthday this week. "To be picked in a squad alongside Melie (Amelia) is pretty special. She’s inspired me a lot to get back into playing cricket competitively and push for higher honours," she said.
A big name missing in the squad is Lea Tahuhu, the pace bowler, who welcomed her child with Satterthwaite on 13 January.
"I'm really proud and excited to lead the White Ferns," Devine said. "This is a team I’m deeply passionate about and to have the opportunity to help drive its future is a privilege ... We’ve got a good mix of talent and experience in the group and I’m looking forward to leaning on my fellow senior players to try and build on the good work done by Amy and Suzie Bates."
Coach Bob Carter said he was looking forward to working with the new skipper. "Sophie’s been an outstanding performer for the White Ferns for more than a decade now and we feel she’s ready to step up and lead this team," he said.
"She has a sound understanding of the game and, most importantly, holds the respect of her fellow players. We believe the leadership can take her game to an even higher level."
The limited-overs series against South Africa will be followed by the Women's T20 World Cup in Australia from February.
Squad: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Bernadine Bezuidenhout (wk), Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest (wk)
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