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Women’s World Cup 2022 – Sophie Devine hopes to channel New Zealand’s spirit of 2015


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Captain hopes to do what McCullum & co did in spurring a revolution seven years ago

“Let’s show them,” is the mantra New Zealand is embracing for the next 18 months as it becomes the centre of women’s sport, with three World Cups in three major sports. The Cricket World Cup kicks off on Friday, the Rugby World Cup will start in October-November and New Zealand are co-hosts of next year’s Football World Cup in July-August. White Ferns captain Sophie Devine said they’ll be looking to those three simple words to put women’s sport at the forefront of fans’ hearts and minds.

“It’s a really unique time,” Devine said ahead of New Zealand’s opener against West Indies in Mount Maunganui. “It’s something New Zealand is extremely proud of – to be hosting three Women’s World Cups in the space of a couple of years. That doesn’t happen too often and we get the opportunity to lead the rest of the teams off. A big one (statement) that’s been pushed is, ‘Let’s show them.’ It really gets behind women’s sport and is about getting it out there, and the opportunity to get on the global stage with hopefully billions of eyes watching us.”

The billions will come from television screens, with New Zealand’s borders still heavily restricted and the number of fans in the stadium limited to 10% initially, but that does not mean there won’t be a vibe. Devine is hopeful New Zealanders will embrace the spirit of 2015, when they were co-hosts of the ODI World Cup and their men’s team went unbeaten through the group stage to reach the final.

“Dream big, New Zealand,” was the catchphrase at the time and Devine remembers the country was galvanised around cricket. “I was fortunate enough to be at Wespac Stadium when Martin Guptill brought up his 200,” Devine remembered. “The way the whole public got behind the men’s team was extraordinary and it certainly created a buzz.”

Now, she hopes the same atmosphere can be recreated for the women’s tournament. “We’ve spoken about how we can get the country behind us and we know our best way of doing it is by playing a really exciting brand of cricket with a smile and enjoying spending time together out in the middle,” she said. “We know the power of the 2015 World Cup and the surge in (cricket-playing) numbers. We are looking forward to doing our part as players and making sure that whoever is watching that they are really enjoying women’s cricket because it has really grown so much over the last couple of years – and women’s sport as well has been on this real wave of momentum.”

Already, the White Ferns have found themselves attracting public attention. “We’ve had a few cars honking their horns at us, which I think is a good thing,” Devine joked. “We’ve felt so much love and support from people from all around, from people passing us in the street. It’s been really nice to see people recognising us and wishing us well.”

New Zealand enter the tournament on the back of a 4-1 series win over 2017 finalists India, headlined by Amelia Kerr’s 353 runs at an average of 117.66. New Zealand were strong in setting totals and chasing and the top four have been in particularly good form. Devine is satisfied with the form throughout the order.

“The impressive thing about our team at the moment is that it’s not just the top four that are standing up,” she said. “We’ve had impressive performances from people batting at 5, 6, 7 and 8. Even Hannah Rowe, coming in at 10 or 11 in one of the ODIs, was crunching Jhulan Goswami around the ground for four. It’s given people confidence that we are really match fit and ready to go.”

And they’ve been ready for more than a year. Though the delay in the tournament’s start date allowed New Zealand to find some form after last winning a series against Ireland in June 2018, they cannot wait to get going.

“I’ll be counting down the minutes until the first game kicks off. There’s a lot of excitement. It’s about keeping that under control,” Devine said. “There’s going to be nerves, there’s going to be pressure, there’s going to be expectation. We’d be silly to think those things won’t be there especially being a home World Cup. We are embracing all the different things.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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