New Zealand vs Australia preview: Fresh faces galore as the White Ferns and Southern Stars renew the rivalry

New Zealand can knock off the Southern Stars in their six game home limited overs series (Photo: Cricket Australia)

Off the back of New Zealand’s summer trip to Australia, the tables will turn when the Southern Stars travel to their Trans – Tasman neighbors for a six-match series.

Both sides welcome a wealth of players back into the fold, creating an intriguing contest between two strong cricketing nations.

The series starts on March 28 with the first of three T20 clashes, before the three-game ODI series kicks off on April 4.

Australia backs in young pace

If the WNCL and WBBL |06 taught Australian women’s domestic cricket anything, it was that their emerging crop of pace bowlers hold the key for the nation’s future. Having seen multiple quicks run through sides throughout the tournament, the Southern Stars selectors have rewarded young bowlers with selection in the 17-person squad.

This bunch of fresh faces includes the highly touted South Australian Darcie Brown. The 18-year-old caught the attention of many in WBBL |06 with 10 wickets at 24 from 12 matches. Brown continued to take wickets for South Australia in the WNCL and enters her first Australian squad with form behind her as she firms for a debut in the green and gold.

The teenager joins the returning Tayla Vlaeminck as the head of Australia’s next generation of bowlers. The fit-again speedster has spent 12 months recovering from a series of foot injuries that saw her miss the T20 World Cup and the WBBL. the 22-year-old is fit and firing again and is a key part of this Australian attack.

Selectors have also included 19-year-old Hannah Darlington, who starred in the latest installment of the WBBL. for the Sydney Thunder.

With Vlaeminck raring to once again play international cricket after a strong block in the WNCL for Victoria, Australia faces a rare selection headache with its pace bowlers.

Megan Schutt still stands as the spearhead of the attack, while allrounders Tahlia McGrath and Tasmania’s Belinda Vakarewa provide valuable options with the ball. Ellyse Perry, and Nicola Carey, are both in good form and are all reliable options that skipper Meg Lanning can turn to at any stage of the game.

The strong reserves of talent mean that selectors have an important job of finding the right balance with the ball.

Young speedster Darcie Brown will get a crack at rolling through New Zealand (Photo: Cricket Australia)

Returns and omissions cause a change in the NZ squad

New Zealand’s separate 14-player squads for each series mirrors Australia’s push for youth, with the hosts opting to blood young talent.

Veteran bowler Lea Tahuhu will return to the side for the ODI series after working her way back from a hamstring strain. Forced to sit out of the England series last month, Tahuhu will now get the chance to challenge Australia’s top order when she takes the new ball in the ODI games.

Unfortunately for the White Ferns, star batter Suzie Bates will continue to sit on the sidelines due to the shoulder injury that has seen her grounded since the WBBL. But New Zealand has seized the chance to include fresh faces, with Brooke Halliday given the chance to continue her strong run of form that included consecutive half-centuries against England last month.

Joining Halliday is 16-year-old spinner Fran Jonas, with her left-arm off-spinners providing valuable variation in the New Zealand attack.

At just 16, Fran Jonas will get the chance to bowl to the Southern Stars (Photo: Auckland Cricket)

Can New Zealand stop Australia’s batting strength?

If the cricket world needed another indication of the Southern Stars’ batting prowess, look no further than the unlucky members who missed out on selection. Topping the charts of the WNCL runscorers, Elyse Villani did everything to force her way into the top order for the New Zealand series, yet still couldn’t find a spot in the squad.

The reason behind this omission is the steady form of an imposing bunch of batters. Beth Mooney, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Meg Lanning, Nicola Carey, Ellyse Perry and Ash Gardner all had impressive tournaments with the bat, and create a strong top seven.

The key to breaking down Australia’s batters lies in early wickets. Getting through the solid techniques of Mooney, Healy, and Lanning can expose the big hitters in the lower order. Putting the middle order under pressure is vital unless the hosts want to be chasing mammoth totals repetitively over the six games.

A celebration for a New Zealand treasure

It’s a landmark time for New Zealand captain Sophie Devine, who is set to add another chapter to her stellar career when she notches up her 100th T20 international.

Devine is still the spearhead of the home side, and without Bates, will be the key to the home side’s fortunes over all the 6 matches against Australia.

Having just come out of a week in the Blackcaps camp, Devine will sit at the top of the order in both the T20 and ODI matches. Her bowling is also an important component of the New Zealand line-up, as her new-ball abilities may trouble Australia’s strong top order.

Sophie Devine should play her 100th international T20 in the three game series against Australia (Photo: Cricket Australia)

An underrated part of Devine’s game is her captaincy – with new members settling into the national squad, her use of spinners and fresh talent could be the difference in a tight series. If New Zealand is to upset the Australian juggernaut, Devine will be looking to the exciting Maddy Green and veteran Katey Martin to contribute with the bat consistently across the six matches. The hosts need plenty of players to stand up and perform if they are to mix it with the world’s best women’s cricket team.

Fixtures:

1st T20: March 28, Seddon Park, Hamilton, 5.10pm AEDT

2nd T20: March 30, McLean Park, Napier, 1pm AEDT

3rd T20: April 1, Eden Park, Auckland, 1pm AEDT

1st ODI: April 4, Bay Oval, Tauranga, 9am AEDT

2nd ODI: April 7, Bay Oval, Tauranga, 12noon AEDT

3rd ODI: April 10, Bay Oval, Tauranga, 12noon AEDT

Squads:

Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Molly Strano, Georgia Wareham, Belinda Vakarewa, Tayla Vlaeminck

New Zealand:

T20I squad: Sophie Devine (capt), Amy Satterthwaite (vice-capt), Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Frances Mackay, Katey Martin (wk), Thamsyn Newton, Hannah Rowe

ODI squad: Sophie Devine (capt), Amy Satterthwaite (vice-capt), Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek – (games 2 & 3 only), Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Frances Mackay, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin (wk), Hannah Rowe (game 1 only), Lea Tahuhu

You can watch the six match series on Kayo and Foxtel from March 28.

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