The Australian women's cricket team continued their winning ways in New Zealand. Image Source: cricket.com.au

Many stories came out of the Southern Stars tour of New Zealand. Now world-record holders despite a tense loss, Australia can leap into the next year of international cricket.

The six limited-overs match series between the White Ferns and the Southern Stars produced a variety of headlines. The three T20s saw New Zealand take it up to the World Cup champions, while the ODI series gave the visitors the perfect opportunity to grind their way to a record-breaking collection of wins.

Australia start strong with too many to choose from

With a squad bursting at the seams with talent, the Southern Stars opened their account in New Zealand with the type of scintillating performance that they have made their trademark in the T20 sphere.

The Sophie Devine-led White Ferns never had a chance, scraping their way to 6-130. Megan Schutt began yet another solid tour economically, while Jess Jonassen’s T20 nous was at its tricky best.

In response, early wickets saw Australia’s iron grip soften, as Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney, and Rachael Haynes all fell cheaply. It was up to powerful allrounder Ashleigh Gardner to steer the visitors home – a whirlwind knock of 73 not out of 48 balls saw the Aussies fly off the canvas to win by six wickets.

Ellyse Perry (23 not out off 16 balls) was also instrumental with the bat, but her involvement with the ball in hand soon came into discussions. Perry has been one of the greatest international cricketers to ever play but didn’t receive a bowl in the opening T20. In a trend that would soon develop further, the superstar all-rounder struggled to get any overs in due to the depth of Australia’s bowling stocks.

Cracks open in a crazy finish

Despite racing to another T20 win in the first match, New Zealand proved they could match it with the Southern Stars. In the second bout, they took their competitiveness to a new level.

In yet another battle between the two nations, it was Australia’s class that persevered despite New Zealand’s fierce challenges (Photo – Cricket Australia)

Throughout the entire tournament, Australia’s batting never really took off into its top gear, as New Zealand could hold the visitors to 4-129 off their 20 overs. Without Sophie Devine, the bowling efforts of Amy Satterthwaite, Frances Mackay, and Jess Kerr signaled a new era of tight New Zealand bowling.

Of course, the chase was never easy. When Mackay, on one leg, was removed for a fiery 46, Australia held complete control. Many would expect the experienced Southern Stars to grind the result, but then Maddy Green and Hannah Rowe met at the crease.

It came down to the final over, with Nicola Carey controversially being thrown the ball ahead of Perry. With a French cut off the last ball, the White Ferns scraped through for a classic nail-biting win. As the final match was later rained out, this win would prove crucial in New Zealand leveling a tight T20 series.

Consistency breaks the record, but not without some intervening shining stars

Switching formats to the One Day series, Australia had the perfect chance to claim revenge for the second T20.

The Southern Stars’ elder stars did the damage – Healy, Perry, and Gardner all posted half-centuries to easily chase down the target. Schutt (4-32) and Carey (3-34) did the damage with the ball, as New Zealand barely got a look in.

In hot pursuit of the world record, most consecutive ODI wins in cricket history, breaking Ricky Ponting’s 2003 men’s side, Lanning and her troops handled the pressure with ease. Haynes, Healy, and Lanning all got the visitors off to the perfect start, blitzing a depleted White Ferns attack to post 7-271. Despite Amelia Kerr’s best efforts with the bat, Spinners Jess Jonassen and Georgia Wareham spun a web to prevent any hope of New Zealand upsetting the juggernaut.

The White Ferns may have lost their captain in Sophie Devine (pictured) for most of the series, but her absence allowed for some emerging prospects to gain exposure (Photo – Cricket Australia)

But the final ODI proved how far New Zealand had come without their star in Sophie Devine. Leigh Kasperek had come in and snatched six wickets in the second match, but now the entire team put in an even effort to match the Aussies. The return of seamer Lea Tahuhu, alongside Kasperek, inspired the home team to roll through Australia to leave them at 7-149 off their 25 overs.

Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy celebrate their 23rd consecutive ODI win. Image: cricket.com.au

But it wasn’t to be. Stand-in skipper Amy Satterthwaite, Maddy Green, and Amelia Kerr had all made important contributions throughout the six games, but they were facing an Australian lineup with the game on the line. An all-around bowling performance cut short a hopeful New Zealand effort, wrapping up the series 3-0 and ending the tour well.

Despite not registering an ODI win, the home side has plenty to be hopeful about ahead of a home 50 over World Cup in 2022. With some new gems being unearthed throughout the six-game series, and a memorable T20 win headlining their summer.

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