After the Bangladesh innings, “I made sure I got off the field quickly and reset and do the routines I have been doing”
Now, March 2022. The Women’s World Cup is on. And it was raining in Dunedin on the morning of New Zealand’s game against Bangladesh.
“I am trying not to mention it because the last time we had a game against South Africa, it rained the whole day,” Bates recalled on Sunday, a day before the Bangladesh game. “I am just taking it day by day and hoping tomorrow the sun comes out.”
For the longest time, it didn’t. It was a gloomy morning, accompanied by a drizzle, after a night of heavy rain.
It wasn’t an easy morning for Bates. Her family WhatsApp group was buzzing with weather updates, and it was “not helping my mood”, she said after the game.
Oh yes, it did take place.
The rain did relent, and over four hours after the scheduled start of play, the two teams got ready for action, in a 27-overs-a-side contest.
“Yesterday (was a) beautiful, standard day, sort of went to bed thinking that it was going to clear and we just stayed at the hotel. Bob [Carter, head coach] messaged us and told us to sit tight and it was the longest four or five hours at home. I didn’t want to look outside and just really was desperate for us to get a game on.”
Having played a lot of her cricket – age-group as well as for Otago Sparks – in Dunedin, Bates knew the surface well. And she made the most of it. Her parents and sister Olivia, and fellow Dunedin resident Katey Martin’s parents Steve and Wendy, who are “like second cricket parents” for Bates, were in the audience.
“I think they were relieved that they were finally able to watch me play for NZ although they have watched me play for Otago,” Bates said. “It was a strange day. When I got on the field, I was fully focused on doing my best job and hoping the rain stayed away. And then as soon as the innings finished I realised there was a quick turnaround.
“I also knew there would be extra nerves and anxiety around, first and foremost, being at home and just the way the day had panned. So I made sure I got off the field quickly and reset and do the routines I have been doing. As soon as I faced the first ball, I knew I was home and it was a good wicket to bat on.”
Bates has been one of the premier cricketers around the world, so it was rather strange that she had never played in Dunedin before, and almost missed it again. But now that it has happened, she was happy to look back at the uncertain build-up.
“Everyone was talking about it, I was trying not to talk about it too much,” she said. “Today, when it rained, I’d really wanted to hide under the covers until the sun came out and then we got a game of cricket. It has been a massive build up and I am relieved we got a game and we got a win.”
S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo