All-rounder Sophie Devine has been appointed captain of the New Zealand Women, taking over from Amy Satterthwaite ahead of the fortcoming South Africa series which serves as a build-up to the T20 World Cup. Devine, 30, will be third player to skipper the White Ferns in the last 18 months, after Suzie Bates and Satterthwaite. While Bates resigned in September 2018, Satterthwaite is on a break after giving birth to her first child.
"It's something that you sort of dream of, isn't it?" Devine said on Thursday (January 16) after she was unveiled as skipper by New Zealand Cricket. "I didn't think it would happen during my cricket career. I just want to continue to build on the fantastic work that both Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite have have bought into the side and really driving the culture behind the team.
"It's an exciting time for women's cricket in this country with the recently signed MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with NZC, a fresh direction with our new coach Bob Carter, and two ICC World Cups on the horizon. We've got a good mix of talent and experience in the group, and I'm looking forward to leaning on my fellow senior players to try and build on the good work done by Amy and Suzie Bates."
"We've been really disappointed with the last couple of World Cup performances," she said. "We've certainly got a lot of work to do; to win the World Cup and bring it home."
Devine enjoyed a landmark season of the WBBL with the Adelaide Strikers late last year, finishing as the player of the tournament after scoring a total of 769 runs in 16 matches at a strike rate of 130.33. She also took 19 wickets through the season and became the first woman to hit a half-century and take a fifer in a game. She has followed that up with an equally impressive run in the Super Smash for Wellington Blaze, smashing 315 runs at an average of 52.50 and strike rate of 177.96, including a highest of 112.
A veteran of 102 ODIs and 83 T20Is, Devine had been tipped for a role as New Zealand Captain since her college days and despite that premonition taking time to manifest, New Zealand's head coach Bob Carter is confident the team is in very capable hands heading into the T20 and 50-over World Cups of 2020 and 2021 respectively.
"I'm very confident that Sophie is going to do a great job," Carter said. "Look at how great a player she is. Sophie's been an outstanding performer for the White Ferns for more than a decade now, and we feel she's ready to step up and lead this team. She has a sound understanding of the game and, most importantly, holds the respect of her fellow players. We believe the leadership can take her game to an even higher level."
Rachel Priest returns; Jess Kerr gets maiden call-up
New Zealand also welcomed veteran keeper-bat Rachel Priest into their squad for the series against South Africa. Priest, who was dropped after a poor World Cup in 2017, recently earned her central contract with consistent performances in T20 leagues and has enjoyed a great Super Smash tournament so far, hammering 305 runs at a strike-rate of 133.18.
Also returning to the squad is batter Lauren Down while 21-year-old all-rounder Jess Kerr, older sister to Amelia, has received her maiden call-up after an impressive domestic season with the ball.
"To be selected in my first White Ferns squad is a huge honour and it's something I've been working towards for a while," Jess Kerr said. "To be picked in a squad alongside 'Melie' (Amelia) is pretty special. She's inspired me a lot to get back into playing cricket competitively and push for higher honours. I've loved playing alongside her in the Blaze, but to be representing our country together is even more special."
New Zealand will play three ODIs and five T20Is against South Africa beginning on January 25 at Eden Park in Auckland.