Creative coach turns up heat on women's team
The New Zealand women's cricket team clearly trust coach Gary Stead, otherwise they might have had him committed.
To recreate the heat, humidity and general lack of comfort the side expects to encounter in the women's Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka which begins next week, Stead has introduced a series of truly bizarre training tricks.
Buckets of water at the top of the nets for the bowlers to dip their hands in, wearing rubbish bags under clothes, running around wearing multiple poly-props and other winter woollies have all been par for the course for the 14-strong squad which leaves for Sri Lanka today.
There's even been a thin crash mat placed on a good length in New Zealand Cricket's High Performance Centre nets to help the the players get used to the lower, slower conditions.
"It's all about recreating what we expect in Sri Lanka," vice-captain Amy Satterthwaite said.
"Being uncomfortable is something we know is going to happen so this is all set up to make us used to it, so it becomes second nature."
With sapping humidity expected for their three pool matches in Galle on Sri Lanka's south coast, the rubbish bags and extra clothes have all been used to to make the players sweat more and learn how to best handle those difficult conditions.
The buckets of water were for the bowlers to dip their hands in pre-delivery so they know exactly what to expect when they need to bowl with sweat pouring off their bodies.
Not very lady-like certainly but if it helps them win a World Cup, they won't care one iota.
Satterthwaite and her team also went on a 10-day camp to the subcontinental island and the Canterbury all-rounder hoped the side's preparation - and the recall of experienced duo Sophie Devine and Nicola Browne - made them one of the teams to beat in Sri Lanka.
"Other countries often have more resources than us but we've become smarter with how we do things, and the passion and the drive is still there in our side. We've worked extremely hard and really want to do well."
The other major motivator, and another reason so much work has been done on preparation, is to get over the side's recent finals hoodoo.
The White Ferns have lost the final of the two previous T20 World Cups - in 2009 and 2010 - and the last 50-over World Cup, in 2009.
"We won [the 50-over World Cup] in 2000 and haven't won since, but this side have strived very hard to get that monkey off our backs," Satterthwaite said.
"But our first game is against the West Indies and that's what we're focused on for now."
The White Ferns 80 per cent win record at the two previous T20 World Cups makes them the most successful of the eight women's teams.
They meet the Windies on Wednesday before pool games against South Africa then hosts Sri Lanka.
The top two teams from each pool then progress to the semifinals.