Moving further towards the next generation of talent, New Zealand have put forward a younger group to back Sophie Devine for the upcoming Women’s T20 World Cup.
Just four players in the 15-player group join the skipper at 30 years of age or older, with the likes of Frankie Mackay, Katey Martin and Amy Satterthwaite, members of their 50-over World Cup group, all making way in the international game last year.
A bulk of New Zealand’s squad that featured in the home summer against Bangladesh return for the World Cup, and the side’s chances have been given a further boost with the re-inclusion of hard-hitting all-rounder Brooke Halliday, who missed time due to a hand injury. The side were too strong for Bangladesh in December, sweeping the tourists 3-0.
Bernadine Bezuidenhout, who switched allegiances to New Zealand from South Africa in 2018, also joins to the squad, beating out fellow ‘keepers Jess McFadyen and Izzy Gaze. A match-up against the Proteas on February 13 beckons for Bezuidenhout should she be selected. Bezuidenhout makes her return after a two-year break from the game recovering from Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S).
White Ferns head coach Ben Sawyer said Bezuidenhout brings quality to the group, and helps play a style of cricket that should ensure the team challenges the best in the world.
“For the past seven or eight months we’ve been looking to establish a brand of cricket which we believe spectators will enjoy and, at the same time, gives us the best possible chance of success in major tournaments.
“With both the bat in hand and her work behind the stumps, we believe that Bernie will contribute positively to that style of play."
There was no room on New Zealand’s list for fast bowler Rosemary Mair, who was also left out over the home summer, while two of New Zealand’s U19 contingent, Georgia Plimmer and Fran Jonas, will stay in South Africa as part of the senior team squad.
Jonas sustained a calf injury early in New Zealand's U19 T20 World Cup campaign, though is expected to be fit for the senior tournament.
New Zealand meet defending champions Australia in Paarl for their tournament opener on February 11. They finished behind their trans-Tasman rivals and India at the last Women’s T20 World Cup, narrowly missing out on a semi-final place.
Squad: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Bernadine Bezuidenhout, Eden Carson, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Molly Penfold, Georgia Plimmer, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu