Thursday, January 26, 2023

NZC: Kerr, Down and Penfold return for West Indies tour

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The WHITE FERNS will welcome back the pace-bowling duo of Jess Kerr and Molly Penfold, along with top-order batter Lauren Down, for the upcoming tour of West Indies.

The trio are the only changes to the 15-player squad which claimed bronze at the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, with Claudia Green, Rosemary Mair and wicket-keeper Jess McFadyen making way.

Kerr, who’s become a main-stay with the new ball for the WHITE FERNS in recent years, was a late withdrawal ahead of the Birmingham Games due to a foot injury, while Down opted out ahead of the tournament to prioritise her well-being.

Penfold, at just 21-years of age, rejoins the national side after making her international debut on last year’s tour of England.

Coach Ben Sawyer congratulated all three players on their inclusion for the tour, which comprises a three-game ODI series and a five-game T20I series in Antigua, starting September 16.

“It’s an exciting time for the whole squad and particularly the three players making their returns,” Sawyer said.

“We’ve seen the success Jess has enjoyed on the international stage in her career to date and it’s been encouraging to see her working her way back from injury, and training with the London Spirt over here in the Hundred in recent weeks.

“It’s great to see Lauren return after taking some personal time away from the game.

“She was flying with the bat heading into the ODI World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year only to be ruled out of the tournament with that thumb injury – so we’re looking forward to welcoming her back into the environment.

“I first saw Molly bowling when I was working with Australia at the ODI World Cup and remember telling them how good I thought she was, just from watching her practice.

“You could see she had all the natural attributes for fast bowling and I’ve been sent a few videos of her recent progress – she seems to be going really well.”

Canterbury Magicians all-rounder Lea Tahuhu has retained her place in the squad after impressing as a replacement for Kerr at the Commonwealth Games.

The squad sees the retention of the four youngsters who so impressed in Birmingham: wicket-keeper Izzy Gaze (18), Wellington Blaze batter Georgia Plimmer (18), Auckland Hearts left-arm spinner Fran Jonas (18), and Otago Spark off-spinner Eden Carson (21).

Sophie Devine will captain the side which also features the familiar faces of Suzie Bates, Maddy Green and Melie Kerr.

WHITE FERNS Squad for West Indies

Sophie Devine (c) 

Suzie Bates

Eden Carson

Lauren Down

Izzy Gaze

Maddy Green

Brooke Halliday

Hayley Jensen

Fran Jonas

Jess Kerr

Melie Kerr

Molly Penfold

Georgia Plimmer

Hannah Rowe

Lea Tahuhu

Sawyer, who’s been working with Devine at the Birmingham Phoenix in the Hundred, said the squad for the West Indies was undergoing a variety of preparations ahead of the tour.

“We have six players currently competing over here in the Hundred, while the bulk of the squad has begun a training camp this week at Lincoln, working with assistant coach Sara McGlashan.

“Hayley Jensen is already over in the Caribbean playing in the CPL and she said the conditions are extremely hot and the wickets are keeping a little low – so that’s what we can expect.”

With the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup to be held in South Africa next February, Sawyer said the side would naturally be working towards that tournament, and looking to take momentum from their recent success in Birmingham.

“I know the team took a lot of confidence from winning that bronze-medal match against England,” he said.

“To do it in front of a packed house at Edgbaston and to do it so convincingly will have given the whole unit so much belief.

“This tour will be important for us to continue building on the good work done in England.

“We’ll of course be out to win both series in the Caribbean – but will also be looking to offer opportunities todifferent players as we try and nail down our combinations for the T20 World Cup and refine our game-plans.

“We’ll also be giving the one-day series plenty of attention, having identified that as the format most in need of improvement.”

The WHITE FERNS last toured West Indies in 2014, when they lost the ODI series 4-0, but managed to edge the T20Is 2-1 following a thrilling Super Over victory in the deciding match.

The New Zealand based WHITE FERNS players and staff depart for West Indies on September 10.

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