If there’s any time to do that, it’s now: Skipper Sophie Devine eager to knock Australia off their perch

Sophie Devine celebrates the wicket of Meg Lanning. © ICC

New Zealand skipper Sophie Devine said the three-match T20I series against Australia at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane which begins on Saturday (September 26) is the visitors’ best chance to defeat the world champions in their own backyard.

“No side has played any cricket for six months now, so I think it’s going to be the side that adapts the quickest and gets into the flow of playing international cricket again… I think if there’s any a time to do that (beat Australia), it’s now,” she said, in an interaction with the media on Friday (September 25).

New Zealand have been in Australia for a couple of weeks under quarantine, being allowed out once a day to practice. While Devine said it was a strange experience, she added the time together has allowed the squad to prepare for the challenges ahead of them.

“It’s been a different couple of weeks for us, being stuck in a hotel with only two hours to go out and practice, but we’ve seen plenty of silver linings to that. Not often do we have the opportunity to spend two weeks together as a wider squad, so we’ve really made the most of the opportunity that has been presented to us.”

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The Devine-led side have travelled to Australia with a 17-member squad that does not include their two premier off-spinners, Leigh Kasperek and Anna Peterson. While Kasperek is currently in Scotland, unable to return to New Zealand due to travel restrictions, Anna Peterson opted out of the series. Referring to the pair’s absence, Devine said that while they will be missed, it is the perfect opportunity for the likes of Jess Watkins and Maddy Green to fill their role.

“I think we need to expose more players to the international level. This series presents a unique and great opportunity for young players to step up – something that will help with our depth too.”

“We know how successful Leigh has been for a number of years now, and her partnership with Melie (Amelia) Kerr is something that’s really special to this team. But if you look at the likes of Jess Watkins and Maddy Green as well – who bowled a couple of overs in the practice game – this presents a great opportunity for them,” she said.

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The last time these two sides met was in the T20 World Cup, and the White Ferns lost the match by four runs. Speaking about the close encounters against Australia from the past, Devine said that New Zealand can take confidence from their previous matches, while adding that the team is keen to “go full steam ahead”.

“The thing for us is it is about having the confidence and the belief that we could win these games. People often talk about winning as a habit, and I partly believe in that. They talk about Australia and the success they have had over a number of years, and we almost need to get into that mentality of ‘we can win these games from any position’.”

“We know we are close to this Australian side again. We are focusing on our strengths, and knowing we can do well as a New Zealand side is what is going to help us get over the line.”

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On Thursday (September 24), New Zealand played a 40-over practice match against Australia in which both Devine and Amy Satterthwaite showed some form with the bat. Making a comeback after an 18-month break, Satterthwaite made a 55-ball 48, digging her side out of a hole early in their innings. Devine, who scored a belligerent half-century herself, said she was thrilled to see the left-hander back in full flow, adding that her presence as a senior player and a left-hand batter in the team would be a great boost for the team.

“It was like she never went away,” she laughed. “I know she’s been out of it for 18 months, but the way she has come back – so composed and fluent.”

“At one stage I was enjoying the Australian players having to run across [because of] the left-right combination. We obviously haven’t had many left-handers in the side, so it’s awesome to have Amy back in the side. She is adding so much value not only with the bat, just her experience as a senior player and knowledge of the game too,” she concluded.

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 Video   October 29, 2020

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