Photo Credit: New Zealand Cricket
Northern Districts wicketkeeper Bernadine Bezuidenhout has been recalled to the WHITE FERNS for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa.
The 29-year-old returns to the WHITE FERNS squad 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 kiwi athletes.
The former South Africa international’s inclusion is the only change to the squad that faced Bangladesh in three T20s and three ODIs in December, with wicketkeeper Jess McFadyen missing out.
Bezuidenhout has impressed since returning to the field 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.
WHITE FERNS head coach Ben Sawyer said Bezuidenhout would bring a lot of skill and experience to the WHITE FERNS group.
“For the past seven or eight months we’ve been looking to establish a brand of cricket which we believe spectators will enjoy and, at the same time, gives us the best possible chance of success in major tournaments,” said Sawyer.
“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.”
Bezuidenhout, who made her international debut for South Africa in 2014, has played nine T20s and nine ODIs for the WHITE FERNS since qualifying to represent New Zealand and debuting in 2018.
She last featured for the WHITE FERNS in an ODI against South Africa in Auckland in 2020.
The remainder of Sawyer’s T20 World Cup squad has a familiar feel to it, with 13 of the 15 players bringing one-day or T20 World Cup experience.
Sophie Devine will captain the side which features the familiar faces of Suzie Bates, Maddy Green and Melie Kerr.
Devine has not featured for the Wellington Blaze in their last three Dream11 Super Smash fixtures as a precaution due to a minor foot injury, but is fit to travel to South Africa.
Otago Sparks off-spinner Eden Carson and Auckland Hearts seamer Molly Penfold have both been named for their first official ICC World Cups.
Wellington Blaze batter Georgia Plimmer and Auckland Hearts left-arm spinner Fran Jonas, who are currently in South Africa for the Under 19 Women’s World Cup, will remain in South Africa and join the WHITE FERNS group when they arrive.
Jonas 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.
WHITE FERNS ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Squad
Sophie Devine (c) (Wellington Blaze)
Suzie Bates (Otago Sparks)
Bernadine Bezuidenhout (wk) (Northern Brave)
Eden Carson (Otago Sparks)
Lauren Down (Auckland Hearts)
Maddy Green (Wellington Blaze)
Brooke Halliday (Northern Brave)
Hayley Jensen (Otago Sparks)
Fran Jonas (Auckland Hearts)
Melie Kerr (Wellington Blaze)
Jess Kerr (Wellington Blaze)
Molly Penfold (Auckland Hearts)
Georgia Plimmer (Wellington Blaze)
Hannah Rowe (Central Hinds)
Lea Tahuhu (Canterbury Magicians)
Sawyer said he was pleased with how his side has prepared for the tournament.
“We’re really happy with how the side is shaping up heading into this World Cup,” he said.
“World Cups are always an exciting occasion for any player, especially for those players in our squad who are attending their first.
“We speak a lot about roles and matchups in 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 Dream11 Super Smash, and we’re now looking for them to transfer that form on the ground in South Africa.
“We’re excited to get over there and get started on what will hopefully be a successful campaign.”
Sawyer will be joined in the WHITE FERNS coaching staff by Dean Brownlie (batting coach), Craig Howard (spin bowling coach) and Morne Morkel (tour coach).
The WHITE FERNS 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.
The World Cup campaign begins in Paarl with a Trans-Tasman clash against Australia on February 12.
The squad departs for South Africa on Monday.
WHITE FERNS ICC Women’s T20 World Cup schedule (NZ time)
Practice matches (times/venues TBC)
Saturday 28 January | WHITE FERNS v England, Johannesburg
Monday 30 January | WHITE FERNS v England, Johannesburg
Thursday 2 February | WHITE FERNS v England, Johannesburg
Monday 6 February | WHITE FERNS v West Indies, 9:00pm, Cape Town
Wednesday 8 February | WHITE FERNS v England, 9:00pm, Cape Town
ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Pool-play – LIVE on Sky Sport
Sunday 12 February | WHITE FERNS v Australia | 6:00am, Boland Park, Paarl
Tuesday 14 February | WHITE FERNS v South Africa | 6:00am, Boland Park, Paarl
Saturday 18 February | WHITE FERNS v Bangladesh | 2:00am, Newlands, Cape Town
Monday 20 February | WHITE FERNS v Sri Lanka | 6:00am, Boland Park, Paarl