Women’s World Cup 2022 – Sophie Devine conscious of New Zealand’s chance to leave a legacy


But captain encouraged the players to focus on what they do in the middle rather than a bigger picture

Having been inspired by New Zealand’s victory in the 2000 Women’s ODI World Cup, current captain Sophie Devine is conscious that her team has the chance to leave a legacy in a home tournament but has encouraged the players to focus on what they do in the middle rather than a bigger picture.

New Zealand’s lone success in a global tournament came 22 years ago when they beat Australia by four runs in the final in Christchurch. It was an early memory for an 11-year-old Devine who has since gone on to be one of the best players in the world and will lead a side buoyed by recent success over India.

While crowds are likely to be limited throughout the competition due to Covid-19 restrictions, she hopes the New Zealand people really get behind their team as they did during the men’s run to the 2015 World Cup final when they went undefeated on home soil.

“That was probably one of the first games of women’s cricket I watched on TV, it’s not a bad one,” she said of the 2000 final. “There are so many memories. There’s a number of us who were inspired by those players in that tournament and it’s pretty incredible to think here we are, some 20-odd years later, hosting our own World Cup and the opportunity to hopefully replicate what they did well back in 2000.

“It’s something we have spoken about as a group. Think when we get too caught up in potentially the outside distractions that come with trying to leave a legacy we can probably get drawn away from what we are here to do.

“We know if we play a really exciting brand of cricket that we can get the whole country behind that’s going to leave a legacy, we don’t need to worry about that. Think that’s something the Blackcaps did particularly well in 2015. They really did have the whole country behind them, and we are hoping we can do something similar with igniting that passion that so many Kiwis have for their sport and hopefully they can get in behind us as well.”

New Zealand have been honest with themselves in the lead-up to the tournament about the added pressure that can come with hosting a World Cup. The top four teams from the group stage will qualify for the semi-finals.

“We were fortunate, we spent some time together before we came into camp for the India series where we were able to talk about these expectations that might be placed on us,” Devine said. “We know people will talk, there will be a level of expectation that we are hosting, that previous winners have been the host country, again for us it goes back to the simple thing of our process and making sure we are doing the same things that we have been doing for the last couple of months. There’s a bit more hype around it being a World Cup but at the end it’s another game of cricket.”

New Zealand go into the World Cup on the back of the 4-1 victory over India, their first ODI series since 2018 and the four wins is more than they had managed across the last three years in total, although they have suffered a blow with the loss of Lauren Down to injury. Devine, who was named permanent captain in 2020, said she believed the team was heading in the right direction even when results did not reflect progress.

“It’s a huge confidence-builder for us, we played some excellent cricket,” she said. “The thing that was most pleasing for me was the consistency in the group, to score 250 regularly is something that we’ve demanded for the last couple of years and to be able to do that against a world-class side in India, a couple of big chases as well, will hold us in really good stead.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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