Devine on thatwinning feeling




Stuff NZ Newspapers


Sophie Devine walked into the White Ferns camp for the first time since September this week and she feels there’s been progress made while she’s been away. Which is just as well, with a World Cup on home soil starting in seven weeks’ time at Bay Oval in MountMaunganui. While most of the White Ferns flew home to New Zealand after the team’s tour of England in September, where they lost a Twenty20 series 2-1 and a one-day international series 4-1, captain Devine flew to Australia. So while her international teammates have been attending a series of pre-World Cup camps and playing in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield and the Super Smash, she’s been busy captaining the Perth Scorchers to their first Big Bash League title, then waiting for her turn to come home. Devine got an MIQ voucher for late December and completed her stay last week, in time for her to join this week’s camp in Nelson, the last before the 15-strong squad for the World Cup is named, and she said she was pleased with what she found upon her return. ‘‘I was really impressed with the focus of the group. ‘‘There actually wasn’t too much talk about the World Cup because obviously the team hasn’t been named and there’s World Cup selection still to come, so people were obviously focused on making sure that they put their best foot forward.’’ ‘‘The group’s really found them valuable, these camps,’’ she added. ‘‘For me to be able to come in, having not been at the last couple, and see the progress and to see the match awareness – that’s something I was really impressed with.’’ The World Cup squad is likely to be finalised between the end of the Super Smash round-robin on January 24 and the start of the finals on January 27. Once the T20 competition wraps up on January 29, the White Ferns’ focus will then turn to a series of internationals against India, starting on February 9 and running until February 24, withmatches in Napier, Nelson, and Queenstown. Then it’s up to Christchurch for the official welcome on February 25, then a couple of warm-up matches, ahead of their tournament opener on March 4 against the West Indies, the first of six round-robin matches in the space of 17 days, followed by a seventh six days later. All the leading contenders are set to have similarly busy stretches in the coming weeks, with Australia and England about to contest the Ashes across the Tasman, and South Africa soon to host the West Indies, and they’ll all be eager to ensure they haven’t overdone things by the time the World Cup starts. ‘‘We’ve had a lot of discussions with the support staff and with the players, making sure we get that balance right, making sure we get time away, and you’re able to fill your cup back up,’’ Devine said. ‘‘Touring can be hard, even though we’re at home and that’s certainly going to bring some benefits of the comforts of home, so I think it’s really critical for us to make sure that players are refreshed. ‘‘It’s great that the World Cup’s at the back end of the summer, but it also means that we’re coming off a lot of cricket, so management becomes really important there. ‘‘But we’ve got a great team around us to make sure that those sorts of things are really wellmanaged, and the players are really fighting fit and ready to go when the tournament starts.’’ Devine is set to play her first match of the season for the Wellington Blaze tomorrow against the Northern Brave in Whanga¯rei – not that they need her help, sitting at the top of the Super Smash ladder with seven wins from seven matches as they chase their fourth T20 title in five years. But having guided the Scorchers to success at the end of November, Devine is in a winning frame of mind, and she’s hoping that will help not only the Blaze, but the White Ferns as well. ‘‘It’s been huge,’’ Devine said of her latest stint with Perth, which ended with a win over her former team, the Adelaide Strikers, in the final. ‘‘Obviously it was a tough decision to go over to the WBBL because I would be missing some of the domestic season here and some of the camps, but I think the experience I’ve gained from playing in a winning side, being able to play under pressure, to play in a final situation, that’s really going to help me. ‘‘I haven’t had too many opportunities to play in that level of competition and to be in those sorts of pressure situations, so that’s something I’m hoping to bring back with my captaincy – just little things you’re always learning as a captain and as a player. ‘‘It has been really good for me to be in a different environment. The final was played in front of 15,500 people, and, fingers crossed, we’ll be at the World Cup final at Hagley with roughly the same amount of people there. There’s a few wee gold nuggets that I can take from Australia and bring back and hopefully share with the White Ferns group.’’