Both the Black Caps and White Ferns had impressive wins yesterday on the cricket pitch. But while the Black Caps are all over the news, the White Ferns performed a greater feat and were arguably more entertaining, or so says women’s sports apologist Madeleine Chapman.
On Wednesday afternoon, while avid cricket fans were at work with SkyGo opened in a mute tab, praying it wouldn’t crash like it always does, I was over on glitch-free Sky Sport 4 watching what turned out to be the most exciting, thrilling, and strangely hilarious game of cricket I’ve seen in a long time. And definitely the most impressive New Zealand performance of the day.
I was watching a series-deciding Twenty20 match between the White Ferns and the Southern Stars. Yes, those are women’s teams DON’T CHANGE THE CHANNEL.
To be honest, it started out super boring. I’d just seen Ross Taylor get a record-breaking 17th ODI century(?) off the last ball of the innings and suddenly I was watching 18 overs of spin bowling in a T20 aka not a lot was happening. And yet, by the time it finished I was convinced I’d just witnessed an all-time great game of cricket.
It all began when Katey Martin hilariously got bowled. I was going to write a full shot-by-shot analysis of how Katey Martin got bowled because I incorrectly assumed that would be the most interesting moment of the game. Instead, all you get is this shitty collage I made.
The above is my poor attempt at recreating one of the strangest dismissals I’ve ever seen. Martin successfully executed a forward defence shot and as the Australian keeper ran forward for a sneaky run out attempt, Martin swung her bat back over the crease and in the process, hit the ball into her stumps. If it’s any consolation to her, she hit it in the sweet spot. Really got the meat of the bat onto it.
I searched everywhere for a video to embed but Cricket Australia were the only site to have one and they’ve geo-blocked it from New Zealand [UPDATE: a clip accessible from NZ]. First they stole pavlova, then something else apparently, and now they’ve stolen a tragic New Zealand wicket. When will it stop.
After Martin got out, things went quiet again. New Zealand managed to crawl to an underwhelming 113 and I found myself fearing the worst, that the future of women’s cricket would be 100% spinners. What kind of world would that be, you ask? One with very few boundaries.
During the innings break, the commentators spoke to Amanda-Jade Wellington, the Australian spinner who had just taken four wickets, but really three because Martin should be given full credit for her own dismissal. She was a great interviewee, detailing how she self-taught herself how to bowl spin in her backyard. When asked if she thought 113 was a defendable total, Wellington, without skipping a beat, confidently responded that no, of course it wasn’t.
In that moment I knew Australia would choke. The universe simply does not allow such confidence to be voiced at halftime without stepping in to ruin everything. As the interview wrapped up, I admired Wellington’s swagger and pitied her team’s future demise.
And boy did that demise begin early, with a stellar runout in the first over by teen sensation Amelia Kerr from Tawa College-with-the-tiny-boundaries-that-I-still-struggled-to-score-runs-on-whenever-my-school-team-played-there. It went from very bad to somehow worse for the Southern Stars as they soon found themselves in the less-than-ideal position of being 8 for 5 (8 runs, 5 wickets. It gets tricky when both are single digits). Wow, I thought, this could end up being one of the lowest inning scores in Twenty20 history. It can’t possibly get better than this.
Then two batters ran into each other. No one was hurt, no one got run out, no one looked too angry. It was just hilarious and thankfully replayed a thousand times across the next two overs.
Then Amelia Kerr took this incredible catch.
And somehow rocked these sunglasses with panache I didn’t know existed between the ages of zero and 30 years old.
Meanwhile the wickets kept falling as the White Ferns seam bowlers did what the commentators thought only spin bowlers could do: bowl dot balls and wickets.
Speaking of commentators, whoever the man was that commentated this match was absolutely ruthless and I loved it. At one point, Holly Huddleston bowled a rare maiden over. As the last ball once again whistled past Ashleigh Gardner, the commentator calmly narrated:
“And Gardner goes for her favourite shot, the play and miss.”
A cold-hearted, flawlessly delivered, sick, sick burn.
Less than an hour later the Southern Stars were dismissed for 66, their lowest ever T20 total. Ever. And the best thing about it is the White Ferns had a predominantly seam bowling attack after being outplayed by a spin attack mere minutes earlier. A true display of equal but different strengths and confirmation that women’s cricket is predictably unpredictable.
When I checked back in with the Blackcaps, they’d just won what looked on paper to be a thrilling match. But did viewers of that match get to see a double-hit-into-own-stumps dismissal? Or two batters colliding? Or someone rocking a pair of reflective sunnies like no one has since McCullum? Or a usually dominant team crumble to a record-breaking 66 all out? I’m genuinely asking because I wasn’t watching. I was watching something more entertaining instead.
Want to see all or maybe none of these things happen in the flesh? The White Ferns will play the Southern Stars in an ODI this Sunday 26th February. 11am start, Eden Park outer oval. AND IT’S FREE WHOA.