Suzie Bates in action. © Getty Images

With the COVID-19 pandemic putting all sporting activities globally to a halt, New Zealand opener Suzie Bates feels that playing as much cricket together will be the key going into the 2021 Women’s World Cup at home.

“Obviously, we haven’t had a lot of one-day cricket. The South African series didn’t go that well,” Bates said in a video conference to the reporters on Thursday (April 30). “Post the T20 World Cup, we were really excited to play a lot of 50-over cricket, the lot between ourselves and at the international level. I think that’s still going to be the key to our group, making sure we play a lot of cricket together.

“Definitely, we are excited and motivated to play the World Cup at home. With the lockdown in place and home work out all the time, you might feel a lack of motivation, but I find it really easy to stay motivated and do the fitness knowing that the next big thing for us is a home World Cup,” she added.

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Before the T20 World Cup in Australia last month where New Zealand were ousted in group stages, Bates and Co. were whitewashed by South Africa 3-0 in the ODIs at home. There was a bit of shuffling at the top of the order with Lauren Down opening the innings with Mady Green. Bates came at No.3. Bates said they were looking at the backup opener’s option.

“We had a chat with Bob (Carter) and I think we are looking Amy Satterthwaite coming into the side post-pregnancy. I think she is meant to be there at No.3, so we were trying to find out who is the other backup opener with me. We have a got a lot of time now to think of that (laughs),” said the swashbuckling opener.

The 32-year-old Bates, who made her international debut in 2006, also stated that the unexpected break due to COVID-19 has given her some time to get the mind and body in peace. “It (career) had been quite interesting. I have been to the cricket treadmill for a while saying yes to every opportunity that came my way. But I think this (break) has really given me an opportunity to stop and rest first and foremost but also to get the body and the mind right. I am feeling pretty good not having to play,” said the holder of 10 ODIs centuries.

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Asked about the option of playing behind closed doors, Bates said the option would have been relevant if it was a few years ago. “That would be a huge disappointment, especially considering how far the women’s game has come. I think if it was five years ago, it wouldn’t have been too much different because we felt like playing behind closed doors. It would be a huge shame if the World Cup 2021 is played behind closed doors at home,” she explained.

I feel like we are now in a position when they know how important this World Cup is. Cricket in New Zealand is not just about women’s game but in general, they are excited about the opportunity as to how many people they are able to get in the stadiums. I think they will be doing everything they can to host it as normal.

“Look there have to be changes made doing the best they can with the crowds. I think New Zealand cricket realise how important women’s cricket is and they will be going all out to not push it backward,” Bates concluded.