Devine wants 'rusty' New Zealand to bounce back quickly

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Mental fatigue is like any other physical injury: Sophie Devine

New Zealand skipper Sophie Devine. © Getty Images

The rustiness of the New Zealand side, who haven’t played competitive cricket since April 2021 was on display against England in the first T20I played at Chelmsford on September 1 as the visitors lost the match against clinical England by 46 runs. New Zealand’s captain Sophie Devine admitted that her side needs to overcome that rustiness quickly ahead of the second T20I on Saturday (September 4).

“It’s always a bit of a challenge. There is only so much training you can do before you need to get out there and play games. For us, we were a little rusty today, but full credit to England,” she said after the game. “Tammy Beaumont was outstanding. We just couldn’t seem to stem the flow of runs, although I thought Hayley Jensen for us was magnificent with the ball. I think, there are some positives we can take away from it, but certainly, there was a bit of rust which we have to get out quickly before the second match.”

Before arriving in England, New Zealand had multiple camps and net sessions but were not able to play any competitive cricket. They could only play one practice match against England A ahead of the T20I series. Devine believes it’s difficult to judge match preparedness based on training camps.

“I think it’s always a tough one to judge. You don’t play the game you don’t know where you stand. For us, it was nice to get out in the park. There is so much training in the nets against one another. There is certainly a bit of rust. We are glad we have got that first one under the belt. It would have been nice to come away with a win, but plenty of positives for us to take moving forward to the second game.”

England openers in Danielle Wyatt and Beaumont clobbered 30 runs in the first three overs before Leigh Kasperek broke the partnership. New Zealand were able to fight back through Jensen, who took two important wickets of England’s stand-in captain Natalie Sciver and Beaumont and Amy Satterthwaite, who scored 43 runs. Devine was proud of the fightback her team was able to show, and she believes it shows the intent of the team.

“There are some real positives that we can take out of today. Hayley Jensen with the ball and Amy Satterthwaite with the bat and even the lower order the way they showed the intent, even though the run rate got a little bit too big for us, the intent they have shown is certainly we have spoken about as a group over the last couple of months. We will make sure the message gets through to the group.”

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The lack of partnerships during the batting innings hurt New Zealand. Satterthwaite played the lone hand in the chase, scoring 43 off 31 balls. Her 48-run stand for the third wicket with Maddy Green was the best for the tourists. Devine stressed that the importance of having strong partnerships is something the team has talked about in the past.

“That is something we have talked about from last summer is that we need to build partnerships. Not just with the bat, but with the ball as well. Beaumont did well for the English today. We probably put down the few chances, which might have stemmed the flow a little bit more. For us, we know as soon as we start to build big partnerships, we can really take the game away from the opposition. That is something we are focusing on.”

Both teams had a contrasting power plays as England scored 47 runs and only lost the wicket of Wyatt. New Zealand lost both the openers inside the power play and could score only 35 runs when the required run rate was at 10.71.

“Power plays are very important, and we were on the back-foot in both, but I thought we fought back exceptionally well. We didn’t get the greatest start, losing me and Suzie reasonably early. We fought back and tried to build the partnerships. Unfortunately, those wickets are a real momentum killer. We absolutely want to target the first six overs, but we also know that the deeper we take the game the closer it’s going to get.”

“For us, it’s more about honing on what we are going to do, and that has been a focus of ours for the last few months because we have only had ourselves to train and play with. It is about making sure what our roles are and how we are going to attack them with bat and ball. We need that clarity for each individual to know how we are going to go about it,” she concluded.