Positive response from young girls and boys to the White Ferns was the best part of a good season, says New Zealand captain.
After a busy few months that included appearances in the Women’s Big Bash League, as well as limited-overs series against Sri Lanka and Windies, New Zealand captain Suzie Bates finally has a chance to relax and reflect.
The White Ferns’ sweep of Windies in the one-day internationals as well as the Twenty20 Internationals gave home fans something to cheer about in March. Now, the team can recharge the batteries, and work on their game and fitness ahead of their next assignments, in Ireland and England from June.
Bates herself had the satisfaction of a good series, having scored 234 runs in the three ODIs at home, at an average of 117 and a strike-rate over 100.
It took her to second on the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s ODI Rankings for batters, and put her in reach of a long-standing national record.
Bates is now just 23 runs away from Debbie Hockley’s tally of 4064 ODI runs. When she goes past that, she will become the leading run-scorer for her country in the format and climb to seventh on the all-time charts led by India’s Mithali Raj.
The personal milestone wasn’t something that mattered to her immediately, but being compared to the great Hockley was special, said Bates in a recent interview with Newsroom.
“Hockley has been the face of women’s cricket in New Zealand for as long as I can remember. She was the one player you heard a lot about.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see a lot of the White Ferns play on TV, but I’ll never forget the 2000 World Cup that the White Ferns won. As a young girl, watching females on TV was so inspiring and you thought [you’d] love to play for the White Ferns,” she said.
“[Hockley] has been one of the most inspiring players in terms of batting and performances. To even be talked about in the same breath is pretty exciting.
“I’m sure if I do get past that record it’s not something that at the time I’ll appreciate, but looking back on my career, I think it’s pretty special to have scored that many runs for your country.”
Having been inspired herself, Bates is keen to do her bit to push young girls and boys to cricket. The fact that much of the White Ferns’ recent matches were either telecast or live streamed had brought a new wave of support, she felt.
“This wouldn’t have happened one year, two years ago, without prompting,” she said, of the kids coming up to her asking for photos and autographs. “It’s been the highlight of the summer. Everywhere we’ve gone there have been young girls – and boys too – wanting autographs and staying around.
“The older you get, you realise that’s actually why you play the game and how you started, and you want to make sure that young girls are watching and wanting to play the game we love.”