Right time to face White Ferns - Lane
New Zealand provide the ideal opposition for an England women’s team desperate to bounce back from their ICC World Twenty20 elimination, believes head coach Mark Lane.
England, the reigning world champions in both 50-over and Twenty20 cricket, were knocked out at the group stage of this year’s tournament in St Kitts after losing a one-over eliminator to Australia and suffering a headlong collapse to West Indies in their next match.
New Zealand, meanwhile, are hardly short of their own motivation. Their three-run defeat to Australia in the final on May 16 is the third successive time the White Ferns have lost a global final.
Despite their recent travails, Charlotte Edwards’ side take a formidable record against New Zealand into the summer, having not lost in their last seven meetings.
However, Lane warns that if England do not perform the fundamentals, they could come a cropper here as they have twice in the Caribbean in the past year.
“I wouldn’t say we know how to beat New Zealand, per se,” Lane told ecb.co.uk.
“They’re very dangerous - a group of big, strong girls who hit the ball hard.
“You have to be very disciplined with your lines and lengths and certainly with the bat you have to punish the bad ball and put their fielders under pressure.
“We have no illusions. My first tour as acting head coach was to Australia and New Zealand. We’d barely won a game of cricket against New Zealand, and we beat them 3-1.
“So we’ve hopefully broken that ‘hold’ that New Zealand would have had over us, and hopefully the shoe’s on the other foot now.”
England go into the three Twenty20s and five-match one-day series unchanged, with 19-year-old batsman Heather Knight retained and given Lane’s backing for a run in the side after playing just once so far, an ODI on the tour of India.
“It’s a chance to give Heather Knight a go. We know (the omitted) Caroline Atkins is a good, solid international cricketer,” he said.
“We just feel that if we don’t start giving these younger girls a chances we don’t know how good they could be.”
England’s two 2009 trophy wins at Sydney and Lord’s both ended in close-run defeats of the White Ferns.
But Lane rejects the notion, in the light of Aimee Watkins’ side stumbling at the last hurdle again in Bridgetown, that the Kiwis are a soft touch.
“Oh no, I wouldn’t call them chokers. The 50-over World Cup final was right in the balance,” said Lane.
“Nicky Shaw bowled brilliantly to win us that game, while Katherine Brunt came up with that spell at Lord’s.
“Their game with the Aussies recently, it ebbed and flowed. These things might come down to one ball, one catch.”
In a move echoing the itinerary for the 2009 World Twenty20 held in this country, England’s three Twenty20 internationals will act as an hors d’oeuvres to men’s matches, this time Friends Provident t20 county action.
On June 29, July 1 and July 2, England and New Zealand will warm-up for games featuring Essex, Hampshire and Sussex - and the choice of venues are no accident, said Lane.
“Well, it’s the way we’re going,” he explained. “The timing is right. A bit of genius I would say.
“I don’t think it’s just great for the girls, but it’s great for the crowds to see what these girls could do.
“I get people coming to me, saying ‘I didn’t know they hit the ball that hard’. Hopefully it’s opening the cricketing world’s minds.
“Chelmsford and Essex CCC have been fantastic of late - their girls cricket is really good.
“Sussex holds big traditions with Clare Connor, Sarah Taylor, Holly Colvin and Laura Marsh, and Hampshire are really kicking on with their programme.
“So this year we’re going to Barnsley and we have a day/nighter at Derby, where we were very well received last year.
“It’s great to play at Taunton and an absolute honour playing at Lord’s. But we’re trying to give the girls other experiences.”
England’s summer begins with back-to-back Twenty20 matches against Bedford School 1st XI on Saturday June 5. The first game begins at 10.30am.