New Delhi, Jan 20 (Ajit Weekly News) Wicketkeeper-batter Bernadine Bezuidenhout has been named in the New Zealand squad for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup to be held from February 10-26 in South Africa.
The 29-year-old, who last played for New Zealand in January 2020, returns after a two-year break from cricket to focus on recovering from RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport) a condition that affects many female athletes in the country.
She is the only change to the New Zealand squad that faced Bangladesh in three T20s and three ODIs at home in December 2022, with wicketkeeper Jess McFadyen missing out.
Bernadine has impressed since returning to the game this summer, scoring her second List-A century for Northern Districts in the opening weekend of the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield, and earning selection for the New Zealand XI side which faced Bangladesh in one-day and T20 warm-up matches in November 2022.
“For the past seven or eight months we’ve been looking to establish a brand of cricket that we believe spectators will enjoy and, at the same time, gives us the best possible chance of success in major tournaments. With both the bat in hand and her work behind the stumps, we believe that Bernie will contribute positively to that style of play.”
“Bernie has already shown this season what she can do with both bat and gloves, and we think that her previous international experience will stand her in good stead in this World Cup. She has gone on quite a journey to return to cricket this season and we’re really looking forward to welcoming her back into the White Ferns environment,” said head coach Ben Sawyer in an official release.
Bernadine, who made her international debut for South Africa in 2014, has played nine T20s and nine ODIs for New Zealand since qualifying to represent them in 2018. Sophie Devine will captain the side which features familiar faces like Suzie Bates, Maddy Green and Amelia Kerr.
Sophie has not featured for the Wellington Blaze in their last three Super Smash fixtures as a precaution due to a minor foot injury but is fit to travel to South Africa. Off-spinner Eden Carson and seamer Molly Penfold have both been named for their first official World Cup appearance.
Batter Georgia Plimmer and left-arm spinner Fran Jonas, who are currently in South Africa for the Under 19 Women’s T20 World Cup, will remain in South Africa and join the senior women’s group when they arrive. Fran withdrew from the Under 19 squad earlier this week due to a minor calf injury but will be fit in time for the senior World Cup.
Lea Tahuhu, Hayley Jensen, Jess Kerr, and Hannah Rowe provide seam and pace options with the ball, while Lauren Down and Brooke Halliday, who returned to the Northern Brave last weekend following a hand injury, bring depth with the bat.
“We speak a lot about roles and matchups on our side, and I believe that we have a lot of quality options to cover all that will be thrown up against us in South Africa. I’ve also been pleased with the way the squad have been performing for their teams in the Super Smash, and we’re now looking for them to transfer that form on the ground in South Africa.”
“We’re really happy with how the side is shaping up heading into this World Cup. World Cups are always an exciting occasion for any player, especially for those players in our squad who are attending their first. We’re excited to get over there and get started on what will hopefully be a successful campaign,” added Sawyer.
Sawyer will be joined in the coaching staff by Dean Brownlie (batting coach), Craig Howard (spin bowling coach) and Morne Morkel (tour coach). The squad departs for South Africa on Monday.
New Zealand begin their preparations in South Africa with three practice matches against England in Johannesburg, before official ICC warm-up matches against the West Indies and England again in Cape Town on February 6 and 8.
Their Women’s T20 World Cup campaign begins in Paarl with a Trans-Tasman clash against Australia on February 12. They will then face South Africa, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka later in the group stage.
New Zealand squad: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Bernadine Bezuidenhout (wk), Eden Carson, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Molly Penfold, Georgia Plimmer, Hannah Rowe and Lea Tahuhu
–Ajit Weekly News
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