Birmingham 2022: New Zealand include new faces in cricket Commonwealth Games squad

WELLINGTON [New Zealand], June 8 (ANI): There's a new look to New Zealand's squad for next month's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with four uncapped players set to earn their international debuts.

With the recent retirements of Amy Satterthwaite and Katey Martin and the likes of Lea Tahuhu, Frankie Mackay and Leigh Kasperek still on the outer, the Kiwis have included four new players in their 15-player squad. Otago Sparks off-spinner Eden Carson, and Auckland Hearts wicket-keeper Izzy Gaze have been included for the first time; Hearts left-arm spinner Fran Jonas and Wellington Blaze batter Georgia Plimmer will embark on their first tours with the New Zealand cricket team, while Blaze wicket-keeper Jess McFadyen will return to the England after first touring there last winter.

They will be complemented by the vast experience of captain Sophie Devine, Suzie Bates, Melie Kerr and Maddy Green, and a raft of players who are well-known to the squad, from Brooke Halliday with 27 international caps to Hayley Jensen with 70.

The 15-strong touring party comprises two wicket-keepers in McFadyen and Gaze; three spinners in Melie Kerr, Carson, and Jonas, a pace bowling quartet of Hannah Rowe, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair and Hayley Jensen (with back-up from Devine) and a batting spine of Bates, Devine, Green, Down and Halliday.

It's the first time women's cricket has featured at the Commonwealth Games, following a men's 50-over version played at Kuala Lumpur in 1998, when New Zealand won a bronze medal. Wednesday's announcement coincides with the women's team's first winter training camp at Bay Oval, where Devine said she feels an atmosphere of excitement around players as they prepare for the Games campaign.

"We can't wait to get on the plane," Devine said in a statement. "To be the first women's cricket team to represent the country at a global event like the Commonwealth Games is truly an honour. It's been great to get the group back together this week at Bay Oval and our new squad members are finding their feet and fitting in well," she added.

Batter Suzie Bates is the one player with previous multi-games experience, having represented New Zealand in basketball at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Bates said the experience was special, and unusual in terms of being in a team within a team.

"Being part of a wider New Zealand team makes you even more proud to wear the Silver Fern," said Bates. "You feel like you're part of something big. To be in the same team as New Zealand's top athletes from all the different sports is something really special." Bates also noted the unique traditions that were part of any Commonwealth Games campaign.

"There's the opening ceremony, the flag bearer selection, and the communal dining halls these all combine to make the Games experience something really memorable and I'm encouraging everyone to soak it all up when we get over there," she pointed.

The naming takes the total number of athletes currently selected to the New Zealand Team for Birmingham 2022 to 95. New Zealand Women's Cricket Team: Suzie Bates, Eden Carson, Sophie Devine, Lauren Down, Izzy Gaze, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Jess Kerr, Melie Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Jess McFadyen, Georgia Plimmer, Hannah Rowe.