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Sophie Devine’s form gives New Zealand hope of success

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Overview

With a T20I series win against South Africa, the return of their veteran quick Lea Tahuhu after a paternity break and a number of seasoned internationals in the side, New Zealand will be hoping to arrive at the big stage in a better shape than they did last time. It was a bitter exit for them in the 2018 edition, when they couldn’t get past the group stage after being beaten by India and Australia. They also have a number of stars in form this time, including their captain Sophie Devine who was the top performer at the WBBL and the Super Smash, which augurs well for the team heading into the tournament.

Squad

Sophie Devine (capt), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest, Lea Tahuhu (coach: Bob Carter)

Group fixtures

February 22: Sri Lanka, WACA

February 27: India, Junction Oval

February 29: Bangladesh, Junction Oval

March 1: Australia, Junction Oval

T20 World Cup history

They were runners-up in the first two editions of the tournament, following which they underperformed in the next four editions with two semi-final exits (in 2012 and 2016) and two group-stage exits (in 2014 and 2018).

Form guide

New Zealand were handed a 3-0 drubbing in the recent ODI series against South Africa at home where their bowlers and their middle order struggled, but they turned it around in the T20I series that followed. They came back strongly against a solid India line-up in a T20I series at home in January 2019 following the T20 World Cup, thrashing them 3-0.

Key players

Captain Devine’s rich run of form puts her among the players to watch out for in the tournament this year. Suzie Bates, the top run-scorer in women’s T20Is, will be integral to New Zealand’s top order. They both have played in every T20 World Cup so far and can be relied on for spectacular starts. The returning Lea Tahuhu could also make an impact in suitable conditions in Australia. Another senior player who is likely to be key is wicketkeeper-batter Rachel Priest, who returned to the international side after nearly three years for the South Africa series, following her stellar domestic and KSL performances. Apart from them, youngsters Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr and Rosemary Mair, who have all emerged as real talent, will be looking to showcase their skills at the big stage.

What would be a success at the tournament?

They have the chance to reach final stage of the tournament but all that would depend on how they handle pressure in the big games. “Our goal is to make the final on March 8 at the MCG but we understand that we’ve got tough opposition and that the tournament is long,” captain Devine wrote in a column for the ICC. Moreover, they must look not to be over-dependent on the likes of Bates and Devine. A number of players in the squad, including the star duo, were part of the 2019-20 edition of the WBBL. The side will be hoping the learnings from the tournament, including the familiarity of the Australian conditions, should work to their advantage.



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How Ellyse Perry’s words turned around Australia Women’s T20 World Cup campaign

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“We just need to make sure we’ve got soul in this group.” It was Ellyse Perry who delivered this critical message to the Australia Women’s team when they stood on the brink of elimination from the T20 World Cup they would go on gloriously to win, the national team coach, Matthew Mott, has revealed.

Australia’s campaign culminated in a wondrous night at the MCG where Meg Lanning‘s team defeated India to raise the trophy in front of more than 86,000 spectators. Mott described how, as well prepared as they were beforehand, the Australians struggled mightily with the weight of expectation.

It had them nervous and getting away from their natural, aggressive instincts in the tournament opener against India at the Sydney Showgrounds, and took them near to elimination in the following game against Sri Lanka in Perth. After Lanning and vice-captain Rachael Haynes had fashioned a partnership to get them home, team leaders called a batting meeting at their hotel to discuss how to change things – at this point, they needed to win four matches in a row to claim the title.

“Traditionally what happens in cricket, and this is only in my experiences, but because you share so much information about bowling and batting is more of an individual pursuit, we rarely have actual batting meetings, they’re normally part of the full meeting,” Mott said. “But we actually called a batting meeting, we just opened it up and said ‘how do you think we’re going, what do we need to do to actually be the best we can be, and be true to ourselves’ and the honesty around that was incredible.

“Players admitted ‘I’m nervous, I haven’t been playing like I normally play, I should be doing this, I should be doing that’. Ellyse Perry was at that meeting because she goes in both meetings as an allrounder. She says ‘to be honest, we just need to make sure we’ve got soul in this group, and we look out for each other, be a little bit more overt with our body language and maybe the odd fist-bump and something like that when someone has hit a good boundary’. I think if you look back to us in the first two games compared to the last few, you definitely saw a greater appreciation of a partnership, and I reckon that was pivotal.”

Perry’s message, combined with the batting of Lanning and Haynes, gave the Australians the reset they desperately needed to play more freely, as demonstrated by subsequent wins over Bangladesh, New Zealand, South Africa amid Sydney’s showers, and finally India in the tournament decider. Perry, of course, was to miss the last two games with a hamstring injury, but her experience and wisdom were tellingly kept on board right up to the finish line.

“We talked about it a lot before the tournament,” Mott said. “The beauty of this team was we actually realised that we didn’t react well in the first game and we were nervous, I was nervous, so I can imagine what the players were like. There was so much expectation and build-up, and we knew there was a lot at stake. For us to turn out at the MCG was potentially a game-changing moment for not just cricket but women’s sport. So there was absolutely a burden there.

“How we internalised that and actually helped each other out sort of happened after Perth and that partnership between Rach [Haynes] and Meg [Lanning]. I think you always look back and say what a great final, but we had no right to be there unless that partnership happened, and that just changed our whole philosophy for the tournament. It was almost like a lightbulb moment of ‘if we keep playing scared and timid we’re going to get these results’. So I was really pleased with the batting group in particular that they galvanised and formed a unit and said ‘we’re going to commit to this. If it doesn’t come off, it doesn’t come off, but we’re going to make sure we go down swinging at least’.”

Mott, who began his coaching career as an assistant to Trevor Bayliss with the New South Wales state team, also spoke about the parallels between Australia’s women taking on the task of winning a home World Cup and England’s men’s team trying to win their first-ever global tournament, also on home soil in 2019.

“Even the way England, after their disappointment in 2015, tried to change the game up and take the game on,” Mott said. “It didn’t always come off, sometimes it doesn’t look great, and you’re always judged on your results. There are certain times where it doesn’t come off, but if you stay true to it, I think Alyssa Healy‘s the perfect example of that, if you’ve got that rare talent that not many players have, [it does reward you].

“As coaches and support staff you’ve just got to keep fostering that when the results aren’t coming, because you don’t want game-changers to start second-guessing themselves. We had to hold the faith and there was a lot of people talking about ‘how are you going to play’, there was never a doubt in our team that at some point she [Healy] was going to hurt someone and I think she did it a few times, ably supported by Beth [Mooney]. A different role, a bit more consistent over time, but they’re just a perfect foil for each other.”



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Atul Bedade suspended as Baroda women coach

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Baroda has indefinitely suspended Atul Bedade, the head coach of the state’s women’s team, pending an inquiry into allegations including those of sexual harassment.

A letter from the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) to Bedade, which has been viewed by ESPNcricinfo, didn’t list specific allegations against him, but noted their nature: “Personal comments on physicality”, “Comments that discourage the morale of team members”, “Angry outbursts unbecoming of a women’s team coach and using unparliamentary language that is not accepted of a person in-charge”, and “Behaviour oblivious of gender sensitivity”.

Ajit Lele, the BCA secretary, confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that the association’s apex committee would form a probe committee to look into the allegations against Bedade. With the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic putting cricket operations on hold globally, it is not yet certain when the probe committee will be formed.

The 53-year-old Bedade, who played 13 ODIs for India in the 1990s, took over as the Baroda women coach in April 2019.

ESPNcricinfo has reached out to Bedade for comment, and will update this story should he provide one. Meanwhile, Sportstar has quoted him as saying he is “not in a position to comment on the matter. I have just received the suspension letter this evening and it’s surprising.”



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PCB takes coronavirus hit, but finances ‘absolutely fine’ for next 12-14 months

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The PCB is set to incur an estimated loss of PKR 200 million (USD 1.2 million approx) in term of gate revenues alone following the postponement of the PSL’s semi-finals and final, and a loss of a further USD 3 to 4 million from not staging the remainder of Pakistan’s home series against Bangladesh in April. Despite these blows, the PCB’s financial health is still sustainable for the next 12 to 14 months, according to its CEO Wasim Khan.

Since March 16, all professional cricket in Pakistan has come to a halt in the light of growing concerns around the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic that is sweeping the globe. After the PSL, Pakistan was set for another month of home domestic and international cricket, with the Pakistan One-Day Cup and the final leg of Bangladesh’s tour of Pakistan. Amid all this, Pakistan’s five-year broadcasting deal and the kit sponsorship were about to end with the PCB preparing to seek out new deals; this means the board will not lose anything financially from their existing commercial deals.

Pakistan only had away tours to play in the five months after the scheduled end of their home season, with their next domestic season due to start in October, and their next home international series set for December. This has given the PCB a bit of breathing room. The board has shut down cricketing operations at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore, asking players and coaches to remain at home with all upcoming courses suspended infinitely. The board’s offices are shut as well, with employees working from home.

How long this shutdown will continue is uncertain, but the PCB is hopeful that it will have sufficient funds to survive by the start of its next round of home fixtures.

“For now our financial grounds are fine, and obviously we just had a PSL, and the loses we incurred were from gate receipts and sponsorships,” Wasim said. “I was roughly calculating that it could be around the 200-million-rupee mark in terms of gate receipts that we actually lost on our revenue. This is something we will have definite numbers for in the next couple of weeks, and we will provide the details of where we made the greatest losses.

“So we are in a fortunate position in the fact that the only immediate loss we have is the the Bangladesh series. We lost three to four million dollars because we are not playing the Test and and ODI. Apart from that we have two things: one, our shirt sponsorship is up for taking, so we are not losing money on that, and we are looking for a new sponsor, and secondly, our broadcasting rights are ending and the Bangladesh series was the last of the Ten Sports deal that we currently had.

“We are moving on to negotiate and looking for new deals and we are very fortunate in the fact that we don’t have home cricket and international’s cricket until we move on to the Asia Cup and Zimbabwe in October. Our finances are okay but like any other country if this continues for another 12 or 14 months, then we will start to see a real challenge in our finances. So for time being we are absolutely fine.”

The next domestic season faces significant changes, with the PCB working to decentralise its domestic stakeholders, forming six independent provincial and city associations. It had already implemented the new structure last year with six teams playing every format in the country, abolishing the old structure with departments playing first-class cricket. The PCB is exploring a plan to squeeze in another tournament, allowing departments to return to the fold.

Administratively, the PCB over coming months is likely to implement a constitution for the provincial boards to form their management committee, which will have its own departments – accounts, finance, marketing, HR, audit, selection, coaching staff. The entire model will be detached from the PCB to work independently with the PCB not retaining any direct role in the decision-making of each regional team. Before this, the PCB had been directly involved in funding and running cricket operations in each region, and last season alone had spent over PKR 1 billion (USD 6.3 million approx) in doing so.



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