Suzie Bates raring to go as she returns from long injury layoff

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Suzie Bates raring to go as she returns from long injury layoff

Suzie Bates in action. © Getty Images

After a nine-month-long break due to her right shoulder injury, Suzie Bates will mark her return to international cricket when she takes the field for the 1st T20I against England in Chelmsford on September 1. The entire New Zealand Squad and support staff - including bowling coach Jacob Oram - travelled from Derby where the team played a practice match against England A and one intra-squad match ahead of the first match of the series.

In the practice match against England A, Bates found her form with the bat as she scored 70 runs. The veteran batter said she was determined to make full use of those games. “It has been a nice start to the tour. Having not played in so long,” Bates said at the media interaction ahead of the series. “We only got two practice matches, so I was pretty determined to make the most of those practice matches. Nice to get a few runs leading to the first match.”

Another former captain in Amy Satterthwaite was also among the runs in the intra-squad match. Coach Oram was pleased with how the senior players went in those two matches. “I think it’s nice that everyone had a runaround. We had a lot of net sessions in the winter in New Zealand, but to come over here and actually get some overs under their belt and to have some competitive cricket was really good. Obviously, it’s great to see people in form and our senior players especially, but we are going to need everyone to perform well over here against one of the best sides in the world," Oram said.

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33-year-old Bates had to miss the previous home fixtures against Australia and England due to a long rehabilitation of the injured shoulder. She admitted that she had to mentally prepare herself for the fielding part of the game.

“I wasn’t too nervous in the terms of the batting. I have done a lot of batting in the nets and pretty much faced every delivery I possibly can. In terms of fielding, it’s just mentally being out there (and) getting in different scenarios as there is only so much you can practice but I was pretty confident. It has been a great feeling to be in the training, but it is nice to get through two match type scenarios.”

New Zealand had to face a series of defeats against England at home in both the shorter formats. The team was not able to win the Rose Bowl Trophy either as Australia continue their strong hold on with a clean-sweep in the ODIs in April 2021. Bates believes her team’s goal is to compete in every single match they get to play.

“I think this group has learnt a lot in the last couple of seasons. We have played against Australia and England which are tough series, but they are the two best teams in the world at the moment. I think the goal for this group is to compete (in) every game and that’s going to be no different with England. I really feel like this team is growing and some of our younger players are really going to impress on this tour and to have Sophie Devine back is really massive for us.”

New Zealand were scheduled to play two additional practice matches upon their arrival in England but due to COVID-19 related restrictions, the team will face England in the first match without much match practice. Oram said the team tried to make intra-squad matches as competitive as they could for the series.

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“Preparation has been as good as it could have been considering we are in our own little bubble. We couldn’t have so many games against the opposition sides but so far it has been good. The intra-squad match was very competitive so that the girls were playing under as much pressure as we could put them under," Oram added.

When asked if she has any plans to resume the bowling in this series, Bates concluded by saying she is taking it slow as far as bowling is concerned, “Probably not this series. I am still rolling the arm over occasionally but the focus was to get back in this team as a batter and to get my fielding up to scratch. I don’t think Sophie will be chucking me the ball but that’s not to say that in the future I won’t get it back."