SKipper: Suzie Bates, the flag bearer of the White Ferns
- Revisiting the journey of one of the stalwarts in the women's cricket.
It was an emotional moment for Suzie Bates, just minutes before their game against the Trans Tanzanian rivals, Australia at Bristol. The skipper of the New Zealand team was felicitated with a special cap to mark a historic moment for the White Ferns as she joined an elite group of cricketers who have represented the national side in over 100 One Day International matches.
Sh became the eighth player to reach the milestone.
The past couple of days in the ICC Women’s World Cup have been nothing short of a roller coaster ride for Bates. She has embarked on a new journey with her young team to lift the coveted trophy that has eluded them since the year 2000.
However, the transition from being a rookie in the team to one of the mainstays in the squad has not been an easy one for this talented right-handed batter, but with plenty of support from her teammates, it has all been worthwhile.
The initial years of international cricket
With loads of runs at the domestic level for Otago Sparks, she was drafted in the squad for the home series against India in the year 2006 and on 4th March, she made her debut at Lincoln.
Although she was not required to bat in her debut game, she picked up a notable scalp of Sulakshana Naik in the middle overs to help the team bowl out the visiting side for a below par score of 117 runs in the first innings.
The runs with the bat started flowing slowly yet steadily, and she emerged to be one of the vital cogs in the batting department of the team in the following years.
The 2009 edition of the World Cup in Australia proved to be a turning point in the career of this dynamic player as she was one of the prolific performers of the team which reached the final.
The Dunedin-born player played one of the most devastating knocks in the history of this iconic tournament by smashing 168 runs off 105 balls against Pakistan in the semi-finals of the event. The innings marked the coming of age for Bates, and the cricket frenzy fans all over the world were provided with a snippet of the blitz to follow in the coming years.
Opportunity to lead the side
Not many people in the world are aware that Bates was also a national level basketball player and played a vital role in the campaign of the Tall Ferns in the 2008 Summer Olympics held in Beijing.
However, in the year 2011, witnessing her rise in the international circuit, the New Zealand cricket team offered her a chance to lead the side albeit with a condition of being committed to the White Ferns. At the crossroad of a massive decision, Bates took some time off and decided to pursue her passion in the game of cricket.
And the rest, as they say, is history as the world witnessed her evolution as a player to one of the living legends of the women’s circuit.
It was her consistent performances at the top of the order that resulted in the New Zealand outfit’s transformation into one of the most formidable batting units. Although her team could not perform well in the last edition of this showpiece event in India, Bates was announced as the player of the tournament for scoring 407 runs.
Her all-around abilities continued to impress on the world stage as she was adjudged as the ICC Women’s ODI and T20I in the year 2016. The 29-year-old is the only player to achieve this rare feat of bagging two ICC accolades in a single year.
Successful stint with the Perth Scorchers
With loads of international experience and hard-hitting abilities, she was one of the favourite picks for the Women's Big Bash League in the inaugural season. After a lot of excitement, Perth Scorchers eventually acquired her services, and she remains to be an integral part of their team composition.
Unfortunately for them, their regular skipper, Nicole Bolton decided to step down from her leadership role to concentrate on her batting performance ahead to the second season. The experience of leading an international side over five years resulted in Bates being the automatic choice.
The move paid rich dividends as she single-handedly led the Scorchers to the finals of the tournament. Despite faltering in the run chase against Sydney Sixers in the summit clash, the team improved their performance through the competition under the guidance of Bates.
History awaits them
After coming agonisingly close to winning the World Cup in 2009, the team has a great chance to repeat the heroics and go a step further in the eleventh edition of the competition at England. One of the most dominant performers on the world stage, the White Ferns have all the abilities required to win this prestigious tournament.
With the experience of Bates at the helm and the likes of Sophie Devine and Amy Satterthwaite in the squad, this team will be the one to watch out for as the tournament progresses into the business end.