It is rather amazing and a bit surprising to come to terms with the fact that not before 2013/14 season did the West Indies Women meet their New Zealand counterparts for once in a bilateral series.
There was no cricket contested between two of women’s cricket’s most balanced sides save for the two cricketing forces meeting one another during a world cup stage.
But things changed drastically ever since the commencement of the 2013-14 season. The two teams have, ever since then, met each other on 3 occasions playing 10 games and even before the 2016 cricket season crept up, there were already 3 bi-lateral series that had been contested between the two.
But this time as the West Indies tour New Zealand, carrying a squad that has the useful experience of their leading light in limited overs cricket Stafanie Taylor- they’d quite like to remember how the White Ferns treated them the last time around in Kiwi-land.
In handing a 3-nil drubbing to the West Indies, it could be said, New Zealand, under the enigmatic leadership of batting all-rounder Suzie Bates made the tourists look rather impoverished. While the likes of Bates contributed with scores like 95, right arm medium pacer Holly Huddleston chipped in with career-best figures of 5/25. To this day, upon playing 23 ODIs, Huddleston’s bowling average remains under 20, an excellent tribute to a bowler who despite coming of age but hasn’t even played 30 ODIs, not exactly promising when you consider her talent warrants for far more cricketing appearances.
The important thing from a New Zealand perspective is that not only are the two going to be around for this series, with 31-year Huddleston realizing it’s going to be largely the same Windies batting line-up- Stafanie Taylor, Dottin, Aguilleira, Kycia Knight– that failed to pick her seaming, away deliveries, New Zealand will be bolstered by the presence of arguably their most key player of late: Amy Satterthwaite. A useful middle order batswoman, Satterthwaite holds a record no international women cricketer has managed to even level thus far: that of scoring four consecutive limited overs hundreds. With 6 ODI hundreds and a promising average of 38, Satterthwaite would be looking to bludgeon a few wounding blows for the touring Windies.
On the other hand, it’s going to be interesting to note what Stafanie Taylor’s side, boasting of the exuberance of its young players, Hayley Matthews, Reniece Boyce and Shamilia Connell can come up with. Traditionally, the New Zealand wickets offer assistance to bowlers and farewell for those who’ve had a handy experience of grinding on turfs where a silken drive to the covers or a gentle nudge- as long as it’s timed beautifully- can run up to the boundary. The big hits, freely as they come, are always handy.
While the West Indies haven’t been great tourists on their overseas assignments, losing all of their ODIs during their last tour to New Zealand, it is about time that Stafanie Taylor picked up some form and led from the front, guiding a side that will be ever dependent on the exploits of fierce strikers of the ball- Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews to stir up the scoring rate.
While New Zealand will have plenty of options with which to derail the West Indian batting lineup- having the useful promise of talents like Lea Tahuhu, Sophie Devine, Lauren Down, Hannah Rowe and the experienced Huddleston who’s mowed down Windies in the past, for Taylor’s side, it might come to stitching useful partnerships, a facet that hasn’t quite shone through. The West Indies- renowned for their penchant to attempt big hits and mighty heaves have often been found wanting to eschew the priceless ability to defend one’s stumps. That said, it might all boil down to which team negotiates with the spinners better.
First game starts March 4 at Christchurch.