For a 16-year-old who’s missing school to be at the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, New Zealand’s Amelia Kerr is causing quite a noise.
On Sunday in Bristol, she picked up 2 for 42 off eight overs, including the wicket of Meg Lanning, the Australian captain and one of the best batters in the business right now. New Zealand lost by five wickets, but Kerr’s effort had thrown the game wide open for a while.
Kerr’s first two overs had been up and down, and Lanning had punished a full toss with a boundary. However, the youngster came back with a brilliant double-strike the next time she was handed the ball.
Lanning was tempted to come down the track, but found herself surprised at the last minute. She edged the ball which was collected by Rachel Priest, who got a catch when she was ready for a stumping. Elyse Villani, the next to come in, didn’t last more than one ball, bowled off a googly.
“She’s a little star,” said Katie Perkins in praise of her team-mate after the match. “Every time she gets the ball, a wicket is not too far away. She’s got that confidence in her own game, regardless of the situation. We’re always in the game when she’s bowling.”
Lanning, who fell to Kerr earlier this year when the teams met as well, hailed her as ‘a very talented bowler’. “She’s got some great skills and variations. We knew that. She’s going to take a lot of wickets for New Zealand over her career and we’re going to have to sort of look at a few things, make sure we play her really well,” she said. “I thought for the majority of the game we played her quite well. But we know she’s a wicket-taker, as leg-spinners generally are. She’s certainly a star of the future and she’s quite good now, to be honest.”
Ellyse Perry, the Player of the Match for her half-century, who took over to guide Australia to victory after losing her captain, acknowledged the change in momentum that Kerr over brought.
“It was a good over! She is a talented bowler. [But] I feel like because our run-rate was only about 4 or 5 most of the time, we were always in pretty good control. That swung the momentum a bit, but there were enough runs on that ground, with that outfield, to feel confident that you can make it up when you need to, especially hitting to the flats end where the wind goes and it’s a shorter boundary.”
With the pitch seeing its third game, runs weren’t easy to come. “I don’t think we ever felt wholly comfortable out there,” said Perry. “It was a tricky wicket and New Zealand bowled really well. It was nice to get a couple of partnerships there with Meg and Alex [Blackwell]. I suppose chasing five an over is reasonably comfortable to a degree, but it was hard going, so it was really nice to get over the line in the end.”
On that testing surface, Lanning credited her bowlers, who took wickets at crucial times, with setting up the win. Playing big roles were Jess Jonassen, the left-arm spinner, and Amanda-Jade Wellington, the leg-spinner, both drafted in for this game, while Kristen Beams, the other leg-spinner, missed out.
“We wanted to go with the attacking option,” explained Lanning of Wellington’s inclusion over Beams. “She’s a wicket-taker. It was tough to leave Kirsten Beams out, she has been bowling really well … We’re going to pick the team on the conditions and the team we’re playing against.”
Added Perry: “The fact that we managed to restrict them to 220, which was a little bit under par on that ground, was due to some great efforts from our bowlers. The spin unit was very good, Megan Schutt was really good in her role as well. We’re definitely building there [to being a strong bowling attack].”
Australia next plays Pakistan, while New Zealand takes on West Indies, which was swatted aside by South Africa on Sunday.
With its previous game washed out, Perkins insisted New Zealand wasn’t panicking yet. “If we win all our games from here, there should be no issue in making the top four,” she said.
Despite West Indies’ troubles, there would be no taking it lightly. “With the West Indies, you’re sometimes not sure about what team’s going to turn up on the day,” said Perry. “Now that they’ve had three losses in a row and today not going so well for them, they’re potentially more dangerous than ever, because they’ll come out with nothing to lose. We’ve got to go out there and play our best cricket, regardless of how they’re performing.”