New coaching era begins for White Ferns

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2012

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New Zealand's elite female cricketers face a more conventional battle when the annual Rose Bowl one-day internationals with Australia start today - unlike their Black Caps counterparts, hostilities will be confined to the field.

The women's squad has an opportunity to cast sport in a positive light when the four-match series gets underway at the Sydney Cricket Ground, a welcome diversion to the leadership dramas enveloping the men's team and New Zealand Cricket.

The White Ferns also have a new coach, Katrina Keenan, but unlike her male equivalent Mike Hesson the former international's transition to the role just two weeks ago as Gary Stead's successor has been controversy-free.

"Gary had four years working and coaching a certain way and he's brought some really great things to the game," said Keenan.

"I hope to make sure we continue to do what we do well and hopefully make it better."

Keenan's initiation could hardly be tougher - Australia was a formidable opponent in her playing days, and little has changed since her 5-test and 54 ODI career ended in 2000.

New Zealand has won only 28 of the 111 trans-Tasman one-dayers played since 1973 and take on a settled Southern Stars team seeking their 13th consecutive win since the White Ferns last experienced success in 2009.

Their last series in January ended 1-0 to Australia with a comfortable victory following a no result and abandonment as Sydney's summer created havoc with the schedule.

Keenan was hoping for fine weather today given the teams have the privilege of playing on the SCG for only the second time - their historic meeting on January 25 was unfortunately washed out part way through the White Ferns most promising innings of the series.

New Zealand arrived on Monday with experienced 14-member squad featuring no new caps and although the win-loss ratio against their rivals is mediocre, Keenan was staying positive as they build up to next month's one-day international World Cup in India.

"The good thing for us is our domestic season is well and truly underway now. We've had a much broader focus on 50-over cricket and the players coming into this series have fantastic form," she said.

"There's been really good performances from our top players. It's good for our confidence that there's been a lot of centuries scored, big totals have been set, and chased down.

"Australia is a strong team but if we stick to our game plan and our roles we will compete."

Captain Suzie Bates was also encouraged at the start of a new coaching era.

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"It almost feels like a new beginning for the team and we are really keen to show exactly what we're capable of.

"There's a number of experienced heads in the squad as well as some talented young players, so the balance is good."

Meanwhile, Keenan acknowledged it would be pleasing to provide the cricketing public with some positive outcomes to offset the ongoing debate regarding Ross Taylor's demise.

"Absolutely," she said.

 "We're just focusing on this group and what we can hopefully achieve."

Australia: Jodie Fields (captain), Alex Blackwell, Jess Cameron, Sarah Coyte, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonnasen, Meg Lanning, Sharon Millanta, Erin Osborne, Ellyse Perry, Leah Poulton, Lisa Sthalekar.

New Zealand: Suzie Bates (captain), Amy Satterthwaite, Erin Bermingham, Nicola Browne, Rachel Candy, Sophie Devine, Lucy Doolan, Frances Mackay, Katey Martin, Sara McGlashan, Morna Nielsen, Katie Perkins, Rachel Priest, Sian Ruck.

Schedule:

Game 1 at SCG, today

Game 2 at North Sydney Oval, Friday

Game 3 at North Sydney Oval, Monday

Game 4 at North Sydney Oval, Wednesday

- Stuff

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