The absence of Natalie Dodd from the White Ferns women's cricket side makes little sense
OPINION: How can prolific Northern Spirit bat Natalie Dodd force her way into the White Ferns for the women's World Cup?
Dodd didn't play in the recent three-match Rose Bowl series against Australia and there's no further matches for the New Zealand team before the squad for the one-day tournament in England in June and July is chosen.
It appears baffling that the 24-year-old Dodd, who has an outstanding domestic record, can't find a place in the national side as they aim to claim the silverware for the first time in 17 years. The fact that she was left out of the squad this summer after making her best international score - and NZ's high score in a win over South Africa - seemed symptomatic of how she's been treated by the White Ferns' selectors.
Sheer numbers stack up hugely in Dodd's favour. She's played 83 one-day domestic matches for a Spirit side that rarely wins and averages 39.35, with seven centuries and 14 fifties. Over the past five years - she made her debut as a 15-year-old - the right-hander is averaging 52.11 and is coming from a 2016/17 domestic season where she scored 349 runs from nine innings at 38.77.
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Compare that to a number of current members of the White Ferns, who have notably inferior records in the NZ one-day competition:
Maddy Green avg 24.44 (36.7 last five years)
Sam Curtis avg 28.86 (35.91 last five years)
Liz Perry avg 24.70 (31.8 last five years)
The only major concern about Dodd's batting has been a slow strike-rate. She has a career domestic one-day strike-rate of 59.37 but it's been steadily climbing - her SR this season was 69.93.
There are extenuating circumstances about that strike-rate too. Dodd's job for the Spirit is simply to score runs - she's often expected to bat through the innings as the side's key player, and if she scores heavily, her side's chances of winnings are massively improved.
Given her success domestically as an opening bat, she seems an obvious addition to the side that pushed Australia close in the Rose Bowl series but still has room for the improvement required to claim the World Cup crown.
The current White Ferns opening duo is a makeshift combination of skipper Suzie Bates and wicketkeeper-bat Rachel Priest. It's understood Bates is a nervous starter who wants the run-rate to be ticking along and may not feel comfortable in that role alongside Dodd.
But Bates could be more valuable in the middle order for the White Ferns, while Dodd is capable of also batting anywhere among the top six. She's a player in the Amy Satterthwaite mode - a strokemaker who favours working the ball around the field initially before looking for the boundary late in her innings.
She's also a prospective wicketkeeper-bat - a role former White Ferns coach Gary Stead felt would be ideal for Dodd but hasn't been pushed since his departure.
Dodd has been a fringe player since making her international debut as a 17-year-old - almost half of her 11 innings were at that age. She batted four times in her latest NZ experience in South Africa late last year, having two failures, a knock of 21 from 28 balls batting at No 7 and 52 as an opener in a match NZ won after being 10-3 after eight overs - while also being named fielder of the series
In an ageing side - many of the key players are in the 29-32-year-old bracket - it seems puzzling why Dodd isn't seen as a player the White Ferns can utilise the talents of for a decade.
They may yet do so, but leaving her out of the World Cup squad could be a costly error.