Lea Tahuhu back, Jess Kerr included in New Zealand's squad for T20 World Cup 2020

Lea Tahuhu back, Jess Kerr included in New Zealand's squad for T20 World Cup 2020

Lea Tahuhu exults after picking up a wicket. © Getty Images

Lea Tahuhu was named in a strong 15-member New Zealand squad for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020, that will be captained by Sophie Devine. Uncapped batter Lauren Down and rookie seamer Jess Kerr are also part of the squad, which was announced on Wednesday (January 29), that will fly to Australia for the tournament next month.

Tahuhu is making a comeback to the side after the birth of her first child. “I’m very excited to be back around the White Ferns group,” she said on her return. “It’s been a whirlwind last couple of weeks - becoming a mum for the first time and everything that goes with it. I’m grateful of Amy’s (Satterthwaite) support back home and can’t wait to get stuck in at training ahead of the T20 series against South Africa.”

New Zealand’s coach Bob Carter also sounded happy to have the experienced quick bowler at the side’s disposal.

“It’s great to have her raw speed and experience back in the group,” he said. “Lea offers us plenty with the ball and will no doubt hurry a few batters up, especially in Australia on their fast, bouncy surfaces.”

Carter though sounded cautious about first making a winning start with the group in the five-match T20I series against South Africa, which the same bunch will play.

Kerr, who had an impressive Super Smash 2019-20 with Wellington Blaze, in which she topped the wickets charts with 20 scalps – the most in a single season of the competition - saw her make it to the squad. She made her ODI debut against South Africa and didn’t really have a memorable beginning, though she had the wicket of Lizelle Lee to show.

“It’s an exciting time for the younger players in the squad but, in saying that, we believe they can add something to the group,” said Carter about Kerr and Lauren Down, who has also been included on the back of some strong domestic performances. Maddy Green, who last played in the format for the Kiwis in the T20 World Cup in 2018, also returns to the side, thanks to the Super Smash.

“We endeavour to learn more about them in the coming series against South Africa.”

The squad also features veteran Suzie Bates alongside Devine, both of whom have played in every edition of the T20 World Cup.

“We have a balanced side with plenty of international experience within,” said skipper Devine, who recently led Wellington Blaze to their third Super Smash title in a row. “It’s up to us to put our best foot forward in these five T20s against South Africa and hone our game before another shot at a World Cup.”

Katie Gurrey, who was the third-highest run-getter in the Super Smash and played against India last year, surprisingly, doesn’t find a spot in the squad that will play the T20Is against South Africa and then travel to Australia for the global tournament.

Squad: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest, Lea Tahuhu.