New Zealand cricket teams have a habit of punching above their weight at World Cups; the WHITE FERNS have been runners-up three times, while the BLACKCAPS’ achievements at the 2015 World Cup are fresh in our minds. For all that, there has been just one tournament where potential has turned into success.
In 2000, New Zealand hosted the Women’s Cricket World Cup for the second time having previously been home to the 1982 edition. Freshly renamed as the WHITE FERNS, New Zealand Cricket’s own marketing emphasised that this was “New Zealand’s best chance to win a World Cup.” The team bought into this notion, with an intense 18 months of preparation leading in to the tournament peaking with trainings up to 14 times a week.
The WHITE FERNS began the 2000-01 home summer with a dominant series against England, sweeping the series across six ODIs. As attention turned to the World Cup, the players found themselves ast the heart of a massive marketing push with appearances on radio, sponsor promotions, school visits and even on the back of buses.
I remember we were all very proud to be hosting. Very proud to be representing NZ.
– Haidee Tiffen
The last time New Zealand hosted the World Cup, players were instrumental in the organisation of the tournament, and the 2000 event would be no different. However, when Trish McKelvey and her teammates were organising 1982’s event, they did so as volunteers. In 2000, WHITE FERN Catherine Campbell was a major player in the planning and delivery of the tournament, but that responsibility came as part of her role managing women’s cricket for New Zealand Cricket. Being paid didn’t stop her going above and beyond to ensure the success of the tournament, both in her role as an organiser and a senior WHITE FERN. Leading in to the tournament she was doing double-duty in preparing on and off the field, as she told Lynn McConnell in a 2000 interview
I’ve worked some reasonably long hours, at my own choice, over the last few weeks.
The 2000 tournament was probably the highest profile tournament to date, with tournament sponsor CricInfo and WHITE FERNS’ sponsor CLEAR Communications working together to ensure coverage could be beamed worldwide. In some areas, New Zealand is still trying to match first world countries in terms of internet speed and access but, back in 2000, we were positively prehistoric. The two partners worked together to upgrade from a 56k modem to a 2000k one to ensure that coverage could be livestreamed on the internet.
How slow is 56k? One man tried to use a single 56k modem to surf the internet in 2015 and couldn’t even get Facebook to load.
Although the tournament had a major sponsor in CricInfo, and without them the tournament would have been unlikely to go ahead, a substantial financial cost was left to be borne by teams and the organisers. For some teams, a rising profile meant opportunities to alleviate that pressure. In the case of the reigning champion Australians, the Australian Institute of Sport providing the funding that meant, for the first time, the players wouldn’t be burdened with the cost.
To the credit of New Zealand Cricket, they accepted that the tournament was never going to be a money-making venture and they were happy to write off the estimated $500-800,000 cost of the tournament in order to continue their support of women in the game. As, then-CEO, Chris Doig outlined
We see this as another example and if it can help women’s cricket around the world it will have been a worthwhile exercise.
The tournament’s opening game, a much-hyped rematch of the previous World Cup final against Australia, quickly brought the hosts back to ground. After losing the toss and being put in to bat, the WHITE FERNS found themselves 4 down inside the first 20 overs, crawling along at less than 2 an over. Thankfully, New Zealand’s captain, Emily Drumm stood tall and anchored the innings with a defiant 74. After having to retire hurt with the score at 31 for 2, she returned 17 runs and 3 wickets later, and found an ally in Kathryn Ramel as the pair put on 71 for the 6th wicket. New Zealand finished on 166 for 9.
Australia is the standard by which we judge ourselves.
– WHITE FERNS’ coach Mike Shrimpton
In spite of the efforts of Drumm and Ramel, the total was never going to be enough to challenge Australia. Led by an unbeaten 51 from Karen Rolton, Australia duly won by 6 wickets and dealt a blow to the host’s title hopes. The result, however, steeled the WHITE FERNS’ resolve and gave them a marker for the tournament.
The fired-up home side dealt to Ireland in their next match, once again proving their prowess in the field with four run-outs. Batting first, the Irish were dismissed for 99, a total that never troubled the New Zealanders, even without their injured captain. Paula Flannery stepped in and hit a match-winning 49* as they won by 8 wickets.
Sri Lanka were beaten in similar fashion – including another 4 run-outs in a 122-run win. With Drumm still out, Anna O’Leary (91*) and Haidee Tiffen (58) were the stars with the bat in the WHITE FERNS’ innings of 210 for 4.
When I was growing up playing in a World Cup was not something I really thought about. It is a great opportunity for us to do something special.
– Anna O’Leary
Before the tournament, Catherine Campbell had signalled that New Zealand had several players ready to launch themselves on to the world stage. O’Leary and Tiffen achieved that against Sri Lanka. The pair, who shared a high score of 42* going in to the match, both debuted the previous season and their partnership enabled them to highlight their immense talent – it was also the first time they had batted together.
The momentum continued to build for the home side as they defeated the Netherlands by 8 wickets at Hagley Park. While Helen Watson was the pick of the bowlers in terms of wickets, taking 3 for 28, it was the evergreen arm of Catherine Campbell that created the chances. Through 10 overs she conceded just 3 runs – one of the five most miserly performances in women’s ODIs. Flannery again led the way in the run chase, hitting 36*.
There was one complication that came out of the Netherlands match as Caroline Salomons, of the Netherlands, and WHITE FERNS’ spinner Erin McDonald were both reported by the umpires for their bowling actions to be reviewed. In total, four bowlers would be reported during the tournament.
While Salomons continued bowling, both in the tournament and for another 11 years in ODIs, McDonald’s international career ended with that match. WHITE FERNS’ coach Mike Shrimpton was quick to point out that the reasons for not including McDonald in any other World Cup matches was for her own benefit. As the team’s youngest player they didn’t want to put any additional pressure on her, focusing instead in working on her action off-field. Shrimpton worked closely with McDonald, using a number of techniques including self-analysis of her bowling in a mirror.
It was an absolutely awesome innings and was one of the most special ones I will ever see.
– Emily Drumm on Haidee Tiffen’s 50* against India
As they had in the previous two World Cups, India provided a sterner test to the New Zealand side but, batting first, the WHITE FERNS had a chance to flex their muscles. Anna O’Leary was again to the fore, hitting 89 at the top, with Debbie Hockley (53) adding to her record World Cup runs tally and Tiffen (50* off 36 balls) again showing her worth. While Chanderkanter Kaul hit 59* in India’s reply, they never threatened New Zealand’s 224 for 5, finishing on 150 for 7.
Against South Africa, skipper Emily Drumm hit 108* before Helen Watson claimed another 3-for in a 158-run win. That left the WHITE FERNS with just one match to play before the semi-finals: England. While they had been a major thorn in their side through World Cup history, the English side at the 2000 World Cup had disappointed: losing to South Africa, India, and Australia. The bonus for the New Zealanders was, whatever happened, their spot in the semi-finals was assured and they had avoided any chance of facing Australia again.
You have to be mentally tough, and disciplined. I enjoy it more, especially not having to wait around to bat.
– Rebecca Rolls on the role of opener
England won the toss and chose to bowl and they would force New Zealand to use more of their batting depth than they had all tournament as they finished 8 down. The WHITE FERNS, however, built partnerships through the innings and, led by 50s to Rolls and Drumm, made 238 for 8. Rolls was particularly strong, hitting 65 from 58 at the top of the innings after being given licence to take the attack to the bowlers.
In reply, no one could make more than Arran Thompson’s 27 at the top for England, their disappointed tournament ending with a 93-run loss and, for the first time in their history, missing out on the final stages. Rolls played a leading hand behind the stumps, claiming 2 stumpings to halt any momentum in the English innings.
The semi-finals delivered two 9-wickets wins as Australia (v South Africa) and New Zealand (v India) predictably saw off their opponents. The WHITE FERNS’ victory was built on the tight bowling that had become the norm for the side in the tournament and the batting of their top 3. O’Leary was again to the fore, hitting 50* as her side chased down India’s 117 in 26.5 overs. After the match, played on December 20, she was quite clear on what the focus was
Mum keeps saying to me ‘what do you want for Christmas?’ and I keep telling her ‘the World Cup.’
It is all about seizing the moment and taking your opportunities. It could be run out or an exceptional catch that lifts the team so fielding is a key.
– Mike Shrimpton on the little things
On December 23rd 2000, New Zealand and Australia met at Lincoln University’s Bert Sutcliffe Oval in a repeat of the World Cup final from three years before. The Australian squad featured ten players from that final, while the New Zealanders could feel they had enough players who remembered that pain and enough who knew nothing of it. As always in trans-Tasman encounters, the WHITE FERNS claimed and enjoyed underdog status with their coach acknowledging the result could hinge on a single act.
He was right.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, the WHITE FERNS immediately lost in-form opener O’Leary before Drumm and Rolls consolidated with a stand of 43. When they both fell with the score at 60, consolidation would become a key word as the middle order all reached double figures without anyone pushing on. In the end, they posted 184 with Kathryn Ramel hitting, a career-best, 41 to top-score. While the total was competitive, Drumm had a familiar feeling
Here we go again, I thought – we haven’t learnt from the last two finals we’ve been in and lost. I knew all about that having been in both of them.
– Captain Emily Drumm recalls her thoughts at the end of the NZ innings.
The WHITE FERNS, harking back to the words of their coach, knew they would have to field out of their skins in order to take out the title. Which is exactly what they did.
The wicket happened first ball – caught behind. Huge nick and great catch by Rollsy. Absolute pandemonium . . .
– Catherine Campbell
Led by two spectacular run outs from Helen Watson, the WHITE FERNS got to the final over needing one wicket, while Australia needed just four runs. It only took one ball for New Zealand to seal the historic victory, sparking massive celebrations as players and fans shared in one of New Zealand cricket’s greatest moments. Journalists covering the game from both sides of the Tasman asked if this was the greatest World Cup final ever, regardless of who which gender took the field.
The tournament was a fitting farewell to a number of WHITE FERNS, including Debbie Hockley and Catherine Campbell who had done such a magnificent job of the leading the side with the bat and ball, respectively, though so many years. Their achievements were celebrated a few days later at Wellington’s Basin Reserve when the team took part in a victory parade during the lunch break of the BLACKCAPS Boxing Day Test against Zimbabwe.