Opportunity lost for misfiring White Ferns at women's World Cup
Warren Lees has accused the White Ferns of being overawed in crunch games and failing to deal with expectation after their worst showing at a women's World Cup.
Former New Zealand wicketkeeper and men's coach Lees, who previously coached the White Ferns, said they would be "absolutely shattered" after a crushing 186-run loss to India in Sunday's (NZ Time) must-win final group match in England.
New Zealand took an experienced side, boasting plenty of firepower to the World Cup, with Lees believing it was their best chance to lift the silverware since 2000. The White Ferns badly underperformed, losing to Australia, England and India, which saw them miss the semi-finals.
Lees expected a thorough review to be conducted and said coaching staff and senior players needed to be answerable. He said it was a huge opportunity squandered, given the talent they possessed.
"The girls will be absolutely shattered and the management will walk away with a huge question mark over their heads and so they should. That's why they get the jobs," Lees said.
"When you lose poorly, it puts a huge question mark [on their future]."
Lees didn't know coach Haidee Tiffen well enough to comment whether she was the best person to guide the team, but pressure will inevitably fall on her following an unsatisfactory campaign.
He believed domestic women's cricket in New Zealand was the strongest it had been. The White Ferns had been given adequate coaching resources and warm-up games to succeed, but hadn't performed to their ability.
"It's a bit like a spoilt kid. Throwing money at your kids doesn't make them improve or behave.
"It doesn't matter how much money you spend. If it's not well spent, you're wasting your time."
New Zealand thumped the weaker Sri Lanka, West Indies and Pakistan sides at the World Cup, but in the games that mattered against the leading sides they didn't front.
The loss to India was particularly harrowing with New Zealand skittled for just 79 in 25.3 overs, chasing 266. Satterthwaite was the only batter to get past 20 in a woeful White Ferns' batting effort.
Lees said the body language between overs during India's game-changing 132-run third wicket partnership was like "schoolkids" with confidence plummeting, which carried over to their batting.
"One on one, the skill levels of our players is right up there and equal to the other players. When we play at our best, we're the equal of all the other teams. Collectively, we can't throw it together.
"We're perhaps overawed. We may be overexcited or tense or nervous."
Lees believed the White Ferns were too reliant on skipper Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite with the bat, who look poised to finish their illustrious careers without a World Cup title.
It is unclear whether the star duo will be involved at international level in four years time, though having the 2021 tournament in New Zealand could be a drawcard. Satterthwaite will be 34 and Bates 33.
The experienced top order of Katey Martin, Rachel Priest and Sophie Devine lacked consistency, with Priest and Devine both only getting past 50 once. Martin averaged just 14 with a highest score of 21 for the tournament.
"They're probably what you call flat track bullies and I don't mean bullies in a negative. They score very heavily against the very weak sides and we get a little bit overawed by the top two teams quite often."
He was bemused veteran batter Sara McGlashan and Canterbury all-rounder Frances Mackay weren't selected in the World Cup squad and thought they would have been valuable additions.
McGlashan and Mackay were among the leading run-scorers in last summer's 50-over competition, but were surplus to requirements.
"They're two questions that need to be discussed. How on earth is Sara McGlashan not there?
"That's got nothing to do with performance or skill levels."