After missing out on semi-final spot, New Zealand skipper reflects on another tournament where the team promised more than it delivered.
New Zealand’s 186-run loss against India in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 game in Derby on Saturday was another addition to a growing list of the team failing in big matches. It needed to win to qualify for the semi-finals, but was bundled out of 79 in a chase of 266.
It was a big shock considering it was one of the pre-tournament favourites. The team needed to come good once against one of the big teams, which it did not. It lost to Australia, England and India, but dominated Sri Lanka, Windies and Pakistan. The team was unlucky that its second game against South Africa was washed out, but who knows whether that result would have gone in its favour.
“You have hit the nail on the head,” said Suzie Bates, the captain, on being asked why New Zealand hasn’t delivered in must-win games over the years. “We haven’t performed in the biggest matches, and that has happened on a number of occasions. We have worked on it as a group and we have talked about that, but (there is a difference) in talking about it and actually doing it. I can’t really answer why that is the case. We believe we have a team that can compete and win these tournaments.”
One of the reasons it lost was an inability to maintain the pressure after reducing India to 21 for 2 within the first Power Play. It was the same issue against England too. There were also four dropped catches of varying difficulty levels. The costliest was that of Veda Krishnamurthy on the mid-wicket boundary. Veda scored 38 runs after that to finish on 70 from 45 balls.
“There were a few catches we didn’t go for during that innings,” reflected Bates. “I am not sure what it is but we have talked about committing 100 percent as a fielding unit. It has been below par for the New Zealand side in this tournament. We have to look at our performances after this World Cup. We haven’t performed anywhere near our capabilities.”
New Zealand dropped Erin Bermingham and Holly Huddleston, and brought in Maddy Green and Hannah Rowe. While Rowe bowled well for two wickets, Green’s inclusion meant that New Zealand was a bowler short.
Bates, however, defended her decision. “We didn’t think we were bowler short. We went with six bowlers with Amy Satterthwaite as well. Against England we had an extra bowler and thought we should have an extra batter for this game,” she said. “I stick by that decision. I just don’t think we had the bowling partnerships. We had the right bowlers out there, we could not back it up on the field at times either.
“Credit to India. We had them under pressure early on with the ball, but the way Mithali (Raj, who made a century) batted with players pitching in around her; they put on a score that was going to be tough. We didn’t perform with the bat at all, it is hard to stomach at the moment,” she added, pinpointing at the batters failing to take responsibility for the second game in a row. “They were able to build partnerships and we could not break away. Leigh Kasperek bowled well and Hannah Rowe performed well. To keep them to 265, I was not disappointed at half-time. I knew it was going to be a big run chase, but to bat like that in a pressure match is really disappointing.”
Bates conceded that New Zealand failed to cross the first hurdle the team had set for itself.
“After any World Cup, there is always going to be a review on how the team performed. We knew it was tough to get into the semi-final. It was going to be the biggest hurdle and we haven’t done that,” she continued. “We definitely haven’t reached the expectations we had as a team, and we will look really closely what we could have done differently.”
Bates has been New Zealand’s captain since 2011. This performance might prompt New Zealand to look for a leadership change. She, however, was not looking far ahead, and urged the team to stay strong.
“I thought I was going to have another week here. I hoped to have another week,” she said. ”I have the Super League (in England) coming up. I am going to take a bit of a break. I have got a few family and friends here. I am sure the team is going to be hurting, not just today but for a few weeks reflecting on the tournament.
“In saying that, we have a really good bunch of girls. We have had lot of fun,” she added. “In these tournaments, when you don’t reach your goal it is disappointing. But we will stay strong, and we have got talented group and some exciting talent coming in. The future of White Ferns, I believe, is in the right hands.”