Newly named New Zealand captain Sophie Devine came out to bat at #11 in her first-ever ODI against Australia back in 2006. Over the next 14 years, the Kiwi all-rounder’s batting abilities would truly come to the fore, as her position slowly rose up the batting order. She would end up batting in every position in the order from 1-11.
Now a player who mostly bats in the top-order for the White Ferns, Sophie Devine believes her experience of batting anywhere in the order has helped her bat with teammates that come down the order since she knows the pressures faced by them as well.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Sophie Devine said she was ready to bat anywhere in the line up provided it helps her team win.
“It certainly has helped me gain a great understanding of what is required in the different roles and trying to figure out how my own style of play can be used in any position. It also helps me relate when I'm batting with teammates down the order as I've been in their shoes and know the sort of pressures they face. Not too sure where my best position is but as long as it's helping my team win then I'll bat anywhere,” Sophie Devine said.
I’d always want to lead from the front: Sophie Devine
In the 91 T20Is that Sophie Devine has been a part of, she has scored 2384 runs at an average of 31.36 and a strike rate of 126.40. In the 12 games that she has led New Zealand, that average was as high as 59, while the strike rate went up to 145.08.
It seems quite safe to say that captaincy brings out the best out of the batter in Sophie Devine. That said, her bowling isn’t too far behind either. Sophie Devine is the leading wicket-taker in the 12 T20I games that she has captained the country, with 12 wickets at an impressive average of 17.75. While that does fall a little short of her regular bowling average of 17.10, it is not too bad for someone that is now considered a batting all-rounder.
Sophie Devine believes that this has to do with how she prefers to lead from the front, and need not necessarily be because of her captaincy.
The Kiwi skipper is also aware of the fact that form could desert her, and that is just the way a sport like cricket works. She believes it will come down to her leading the team from the front in other ways than with the bat in hand.
“I'm not too sure if it is the captaincy or not as I'd always want to lead from the front whether I'm captain of the side or not. It certainly helps when you're performing on the park to motivate and encourage your teammates but I also know that cricket can be a fickle game and form can come and go so it will be how I can support my team and lead from the front in other ways not just with bat in hand,” Sophie Devine told Sportskeeda.
I hope to continue to grow as captain: Sophie Devine
Having been named interim skipper of the White Ferns side in the absence of Amy Satterthwaite, who was away on maternity leave, Sophie Devine has had a largely successful year as captain.
She would lead the team to 7 wins in 12 T20Is, with New Zealand narrowly missing out on a place in the ICC Women's T20 World Cup semi-finals after a four-run defeat at the hands of the Australian women.
On July 9, the 30-year-old Sophie Devine was named permanent captain of the Kiwi side, after impressing the board with her leadership skills. Amy Satterthwaite will return to the team as the vice-captain.
Sophie Devine believes the only difference to her captaincy going forward will be the support and knowledge of a former captain with Amy Satterthwaite returning to the squad. As a captain, Sophie Devine aims to continue growing into the role.
“I don't see there being any difference from when I held the role whilst Amy was on maternity leave - the only difference being now I will have even more support and knowledge to lean on with Amy coming back into the squad. Again my approach won't be any different, as a player you evolve over time and I think that is the same with captaincy. I hope to continue to grow into this role,” Sophie Devine added.
The New Zealand women's cricket team returned to squad training earlier in the week after a prolonged break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sophie Devine is expected to lead the side out in her first game as permanent captain when New Zealand tour Australia towards the end of September.