Battling White Ferns thumped by England in first one-day international
A year out from the women's Cricket World Cup on home soil, the alarm bells are sounding loudly for the struggling White Ferns.
New Zealand's dire recent record in women's ODI cricket continued, being crushed by eight wickets against a clinical England in the first day-night international at Hagley Oval on Tuesday.
The White Ferns hadn’t won an ODI in 753 days before this match and any chance of that drought ending faded with a lacklustre batting performance in the opening ODI.
After winning the toss on a scorching Christchurch day and opting to bat on an excellent wicket, holding no demons, New Zealand were well short of where they needed to be, dismissed for 178. They would have targeted 240-250 against a strong English batting lineup.
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It continues a horror ODI run for the White Ferns, who have lost 10 straight ODIs, six against Australia, and 14 of their past 16 50-over matches.
A miserable day was capped off when experienced pace bowler Lea Tahuhu was carried off with a suspected hamstring injury, hurting herself trying to save a boundary.
Their last ODI win was more than two years ago on February 1, 2019, against India in Hamilton – a match that had little riding on it after India had already won the series.
The White Ferns’ results are a major concern 12 months out from the start of the ICC women's Cricket World Cup, which will be contested in New Zealand.
For the tournament to be a success and attract crowds around the country, the White Ferns need to be performing and winning games – which isn't happening.
With the White Ferns on central contracts and more resources at their disposal than ever before their ODI form over the past two years has been mediocre.
England are the reigning 50-over World Cup champions and a polished outfit, but the White Ferns were their own worst enemy with the bat.
The tourists cruised to their target with opener Tammy Beaumont outstanding, contributing 71, reaching her 10th ODI half-century. Captain Heather Knight was a standout too, hitting an unbeaten 67.
New Zealand weren't able to build any substantial partnerships with the highest stand 39 runs between captain Sophie Devine and Hayley Jensen – used as an opener for the first time in an ODI.
Wickets fell at regular intervals and any time it appeared New Zealand were about to put the pressure back on England a batter departed – bringing someone new to the crease.
The most concerning aspect was the meek way the side's most seasoned campaigners and best players got out.
Devine, veteran Amy Satterthwaite, and rising star Amelia Kerr would have been livid at the way they were removedat crunch stages of the innings.
England were accurate with the ball, keeping loose deliveries to a minimum and frequently striking to dent New Zealand’s progress. Their fielding was sharp with several smart catches held, including a ripper from Beaumont to remove tailender Tahuhu.
The White Ferns have little time to regroup with the final two ODIs of the series in Dunedin on Friday and Sunday.
Opener Jensen and Brooke Halliday, on debut, were two bright spots in the disappointing loss, both notching their maiden ODI half-centuries. Auckland 16-year-old left-arm spinner Fran Jonas also debuted, bowling a maiden in her first over.
Jensen and Natalie Dodd added 24 for the first wicket before a sharp running catch from Danni Wyatt at square leg sent Dodd on her way for eight.
It got even better for England, nabbing the big wicket of Satterthwaite. The top order stalwart was early on the shot and scooped a simple chance to cover, falling for three, leaving New Zealand 34-2.
Jensen and Devine looked to be consolidating, adding 39 for the third wicket.
The White Ferns undid that good work, handing the ascendancy back to England.
Devine would have been disappointed to go for 16, top edging one to deep square from Nat Sciver at a crucial stage.
Jensen then chopped a loose delivery on, falling for an encouraging 53, before Kerr went softly, hitting one straight to Sophie Ecclestone, reducing New Zealand to 104-5.
Northern Spirit skipper Halliday made the most of her debut, showing plenty of fight as wickets fell around her, scoring a hard-fought 50 – the last wicket to fall.
Halliday and Jensen showed their more experienced counterparts how to knuckle down and score runs –something the rest of the top order will need to do in Dunedin to get back into the series.
It was a disciplined bowling effort from England with all seven bowlers used taking at least a wicket and proving economical.
AT A GLANCE:
New Zealand 178 in 45.1 overs (Hayley Jensen 53, Brooke Halliday 50; Tash Farrant 2-31, Sophie Ecclestone 2-36) lost to England 181-2 in 33.4 overs (Tammy Beaumont 71, Heather Knight 67no ) by eight wickets.