A New Zealand Women’s T20 squad comprising a rich mix of youth and experience has been named for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Otago Sparks off-spinner Eden Carson, and Auckland Hearts wicket-keeper Izzy Gaze have been included for the first time; Hearts left-arm spinner Fran Jonas and Wellington Blaze batter Georgia Plimmer will embark on their first tours with the New Zealand cricket team, while Blaze wicket-keeper Jess McFadyen will return to the UK after first touring there last winter.
They will be complemented by the vast experience of captain Sophie Devine, Suzie Bates, Melie Kerr and Maddy Green, and a raft of players who are well-known to the squad, from Brooke Halliday with 27 international caps to Hayley Jensen with 70.
The 15-strong touring party comprises two wicket-keepers in McFadyen and Gaze; three spinners in Melie Kerr, Carson, and Jonas, a pace bowling quartet of Hannah Rowe, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair and Hayley Jensen (with back-up from Devine) and a batting spine of Bates, Devine, Green, Down and Halliday.
It’s the first time women’s cricket has featured at the Commonwealth Games, following a men’s 50-over version played at Kuala Lumpur in 1998, when New Zealand won a bronze medal.
Today’s announcement coincides with the women's team's first winter training camp at Bay Oval, where Devine said she feels an atmosphere of excitement around players as they prepare for the Games campaign.
“We can’t wait to get on the plane,” Devine said.
“To be the first women’s cricket team to represent the country at a global event like the Commonwealth Games is truly an honour.
“It’s been great to get the group back together this week at Bay Oval and our new squad members are finding their feet and fitting in well.”
Batter Suzie Bates is the one player with previous multi-games experience, having represented New Zealand in basketball at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Bates said the experience was special, and unusual in terms of being in a team within a team.
“Being part of a wider New Zealand team makes you even more proud to wear the Silver Fern,” said Bates.
“You feel like you’re part of something big. To be in the same team as New Zealand’s top athletes from all the different sports is something really special.”
Bates also noted the unique traditions that were part of any Commonwealth Games campaign.
“There’s the opening ceremony, the flag bearer selection, and the communal dining halls - these all combine to make the Games experience something really memorable and I’m encouraging everyone to soak it all up when we get over there.”
NZC chief executive David White said it was a huge honour for cricket to be part of the Commonwealth Games.
“It’s a terrific time for cricket to be back at the Commonwealth Games – and it’s another excellent development for the women’s and girl’s game, both here and around the world,” he said.
“I’m sure the players are going to love the experience of being part of a wider New Zealand team, and the slightly different context of the Games environment.”
NZOC CEO Nicki Nicol extended her congratulations to the squad.
“This is an historic occasion with women’s T20 cricket debuting at the Games,” said Nicol.
“We’re thrilled to be taking this team with us to Birmingham and we can’t wait to watch them kick off a proud legacy for women’s cricket at the Games.”
The naming takes the total number of athletes currently selected to the New Zealand Team for Birmingham 2022 to 95.
New Zealand Women’s Cricket Team: Suzie Bates, Eden Carson, Sophie Devine, Lauren Down, Izzy Gaze, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Jess Kerr, Melie Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Jess McFadyen, Georgia Plimmer, Hannah Rowe.