Sophie Devine

"We are here to win": New Zealand captain on T20 World Cup chances

ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023

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New Zealand captain Sophie Devine insists her team are not at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup to make up the numbers, looking to go well beyond their 2020 group stage exit.

Speaking to the ICC ahead of the tournament, Devine has set her sights on history for the White Ferns, not only making the final four but going one better than their two runners-up finishes in 2009.

"Like every other team that’s here - we are here to win it," Devine said in a column for the ICC.

"We know what it takes to win games of cricket and the style of play that can help us achieve that. It's now up to us to be able to do that game after game under the pressures of a World Cup."

On the individual front, Devine's tournament preparation has been curtailed by a stress fracture in her foot, sustained in New Zealand's Super Smash T20 competition.

Coach Ben Sawyer confirmed to reporters that the skipper will sit out the White Ferns' practice matches ahead of their February 11 opener against Australia, and Devine is instead looking forward to the team's prospects and made the point that the timing of the tournament suits a strong run.

"We’re fortunate that the World Cup is at the back end of our home summer, so we’ve had plenty of cricket recently," Devine said.

"We have all been playing in the (New Zealand domestic T20 tournament) Super well as T20 and ODI series against Bangladesh before Christmas, so we feel as prepared as we will ever be."

While the likes of Devine and fellow opener Suzie Bates boast a wealth of global tournament experience, the side is going through a generational change with a number of young players finding their feet in the senior international game. 

Several players will feature in a global tournament for the first time, and the side is bolstered by the return of 29-year-old Bernadine Bezuidenhout.

"Our experienced players such as Suzie Bates and Melie Kerr are going to be key players but I'm really excited by our young guns coming through such as Fran Jonas and Georgia Plimmer - both are playing at the U19 World Cup and will certainly be the future of the White Ferns," Devine continued.

"It’s an exciting time for Molly Penfold and Eden Carson who take part in their very first ICC World Cups, and we also welcome back wicketkeeper-batter Bernadine Bezuidenhout, who has spent the last two years away from the game.

"We've selected a team that provides us with plenty of options with the ball, particularly in the spin department. And with the bat we have experience throughout our squad which will hold us in good stead at this pinnacle event."

Devine acknowledged the collective talent across the field when looking at competition challengers, and pinpointed key individuals for the competition favourites.

"We know that other teams are very strong. England’s Nat Sciver and Alice Capsey have shown in recent times how talented they are and will play a big role in this tournament, Devine noted.

"It is great for the tournament and the women’s game to see Meg Lanning back for the Australians."

Though perhaps most importantly, Devine understands the significance of her position, an international cricket captain in a period of immense progress in the game.

Making her international debut in 2006, Devine has featured in all seven T20 World Cups thus far, citing the format as integral to the game's growth. 

"It's been an incredible time to be involved with women's cricket and the T20 format has been a real driver for the growth in the game," she said.

"The professionalism has increased dramatically and we're seeing that in the way players are clearing the rope, athleticism in the field and bowlers bowling quicker."

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