Suzie Bates, the New Zealand Women captain who will become the eighth woman from her country to play 100 One-Day Internationals when she turns out against South Africa Women in Derby on Wednesday in an ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 game, said that her biggest gain since making debut in March 2006 had been ‘perspective’.
“I hope I have matured. I still have a bit of the 18-year-old kid in me. I think, I just have a little bit more perspective,” said Bates. “When I started leading the team (in 2011), I probably didn’t have lot of things outside of cricket. When it didn’t go well, it was terrible. When it did, you thought you were on the top of the world.
“Probably, I have become a lot more balanced in my outlook on cricket and trying to just take each day as it comes and not get too up and down along the way,” she added. “Hopefully, captaining the side at this World Cup, we can maintain that sort of approach and not get too high or too low, because it’s a long old slog if you ride the highs and lows of the game.”
With 3598 runs and 72 wickets in ODIs, Bates is an established hero of the game. She, however, said that the most memorable moment of her career remains her first game, against India Women in Lincoln, where she took a wicket but did not have to bat in what turned out to be an easy win.
“As an 18-year-old, I remember being pretty excited just to play the likes of Rebecca Rolls and Emily Drumm. I never thought I would play this long. I was at university and cricket was a bit of a hobby,” she recalled. “The first game, I think, is always the most memorable because you are just so excited; you can’t quite believe you are out there playing for your country.”
Bates felt that she must have done something right to be playing for so long. “I really didn’t see going professional. So to still be playing at 29, and be able to play in my 100th game on Wednesday, is exciting. I can’t remember how the last 10-11 years have gone,” she said. “To have been able to play for 10 years means that I have been doing something right. You look at the other names on the list; they are some greats of the women’s game – Debbie Hockley, Sara McGlashan, Amy Watkins. Then there's Haidee Tiffin, who was captain when I was playing. I looked up to Rebecca when I was growing up, a hard-hitting opening batter who also played a lot of football. That was pretty inspiring to play alongside some of these players, and now to be in the same list is amazing."
Women’s cricket, obviously, has come a long way, and the ongoing World Cup is the best example of it, what with the prize money touching US$ 2 million.
“It's unrecognisable from when I started. You got 30 dollars daily allowance if you were staying at home, and I used to with mum and dad. That was still a bit of pocket money. It was just bit of a hobby for everyone,” shared Bates, who also represented New Zealand in basketball in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“Many were studying, some were still at school. People got away from their day jobs for tours and live a dream. When you got together for tours, it was the best thing ever, since you got to live the dream. Now, half a dozen of us do it 10 months of the year, full time, and get paid for it. When I first started, not just as a cricketer but just as a girl who loved sport, I never really thought it was going to be a career. I had study on the side and I just wanted to play sport because I loved it. I always thought I had to get a real job at some stage and I still haven't had to.”