Sophie Devine stuck between cricket, hockey

JONATHAN MILLMOW
Last updated 05:00 13/04/2013
Sophie Devine
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IN DEMAND: Sophie Devine.

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Sophie Devine has become a fulltime cricket professional but still can't bring herself to say goodbye to hockey.

Devine is one of four White Ferns to be given an annual contract by New Zealand Cricket, worth $37,500. The others are captain Suzie Bates, Sara McGlashan and Wellington left-armer Sian Ruck.

The quartet are not necessarily New Zealand's top four players but they have been receptive to an offer to train, play, coach and promote women's cricket on a fulltime basis for the next 12 months.

Devine was on the job yesterday, teaching little ones at Cannons Creek School in Porirua how to bat and bowl. But the real question was not whether she stumbled across any future stars but what did all this mean for her international hockey ambitions.

She had wanted to play for the Black Sticks at the 2016 Rio Olympics and a natural stepping stone was next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Devine said she had advised Black Sticks coach Mark Hager of her decision and the feedback was her move would be detrimental to her future selection prospects but not fatal.

''It was a really tough decision,'' said Devine.

''I'm definitely not closing the door on hockey internationally, but this opportunity was too good to miss.

''To have the financial security and the ability to still train is a new situation for female athletes in any sport in New Zealand.''

Devine, 23, still plans to play for Wellington in the national hockey league in August.

''Hockey have been supportive of my decision. He (Hager) wished me the best. 

''This contract is only for one year so this time next year who knows what might happen. A lot can change in a year, we'll just have to wait and see what happens.''

With regard to her cricket, Devine believes there is lots of scope for her to improve with bat and ball given she can basically focus 24/7 on her game. Already she is one of  cricket's biggest names - her ability to clear the boundary and bowl at brisk pace a rarity in the women's game.

Devine is currently hampered by a split tendon in her foot but hopes to have surgery on it in the next couple of weeks. Playing professionally could mean just that, with Devine excited at being a hired gun in Australia or further afield if her commitments with Wellington and New Zealand permit.

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