White Ferns out for revenge
NZ looking to make up for ICC Womenâ€™s World Cup final defeat to England
“It doesn’t get any bigger than this,” says Charlotte Edwards
New Zealand is hoping it won’t be a case of déjà vu when it takes on home favourite England in the ICC World Twenty20 final at Lord’s on Sunday.
The White Ferns lost a battle of the nerves against England in the ICC Women’s World Cup in March, and are hoping to avoid a repeat wobble by exacting revenge on perhaps the largest stage of their careers.
Captain Aimee Watkins, who stroked New Zealand to success in the ICC World Twenty20 semi-final with 89 not out against India at Trent Bridge, said: “We’ve got that experience under our belt and everyone’s a lot more relaxed this time round.
“If we can go out there and play without fear of getting out, without fear of what might happen with the result – which is what we have been doing – we are going to be hard to beat.”
New Zealand has never played at Lord’s before, in contrast to England’s two heavy ODI wins against India and South Africa in the last two years. So to combat the nerves, the players came to the ground for a look around during the England v Netherlands men’s opener. They then had another walk-around on the eve of the final.
“Just familiarising yourself with the environment is important,” said Watkins.
“We spent a little bit of time talking about what sort of crowds there might be, what sort of noise there may be, how they must stay focussed on the game.”
Both teams are unbeaten in the tournament but England defeated New Zealand in the warm-up which, along with the World Cup win, leaves White Ferns coach Gary Stead admitting England has the psychological edge.
“They’ve got the wood on us a bit,” Stead said. “I wouldn’t read anything into that. They might think they’ve got a slight psychological advantage but the two best teams are in the final and unbeaten.”
England captain Charlotte Edwards agreed: “We’ve got maybe a slight edge but I don’t think it’s going to have any bearing on the final.
“In Twenty20 you can’t pick who’s going to win and I don’t think there are any favourites.”
Edwards says that the ICC World Twenty20 final will be an even greater occasion than the ICC World Cup win in March.
“It’s the biggest game of our lives tomorrow in front of our home crowd. We’re desperate to win. We’re dealing with the pressure very well and the girls are relaxed.
“It’s at home and with the profile we’ve had recently and the semi-final win against Australia, there’s a lot more attention around the team now.”
England is certainly being noticed in its home country, with British prime minister Gordon Brown adding his good luck wishes for the women hot on the heels of Edwards’ recent MBE award from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
But though England has won the last six matches between the pair in all forms of cricket, New Zealand – who bat right down and is stacked with powerful all-rounders – is confident of victory.
Two shaky performances for England’s middle order against Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the group games showed that the line-up is not infallible. It was rescued by Claire Taylor (75*) and Edwards (43) respectively, though Beth Morgan’s 46 not out in the semi-final against Australia will have given the side confidence.
“Because the England top order has been going so well for the last 18 months, the middle order hasn’t had many opportunities out in the middle,” Watkins said.
“We think if we can expose that middle order we might be able to put some pressure on them.”
Edwards was not too worried about the group match slips. “It’s difficult against the minnow teams because there’s no pace on the ball.
“When we play New Zealand we know what they’re about and we’re much more prepared.
“There’s such a huge carrot – another World Cup to add to our other one. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
For more news and information about the women’s section of the ICC World Twenty20 go to www.iccevents.yahoo.com.
The ICC World Twenty20 2009 involves 12 of the top men’s teams and the top eight women’s line-ups playing at four venues – Lord’s, The Oval, Trent Bridge and Taunton – in the pinnacle of international cricketing action.
The defending men’s champion is India, which beat Pakistan in the final of the inaugural event, in South Africa in 2007. This is the first staging of the women’s tournament.
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