November 18, 2000

New Zealand experimenting with opening position in England series

New Zealand has pulled an interesting ploy for its first women's One-Day International against England in Oamaru on Sunday.

The woman regarded as one of, if not, the best batsman in women's cricket, Debbie Hockley will bat at No 4 for New Zealand.

An opener for most of her cricket life, Hockley has made way for wicket-keeper batsman Rebecca Rolls.

New Zealand coach Mike Shrimpton said some experimentation will be undertaken by the side in the warm-up series with England in which all members of the side will play.

"We've elevated Rebecca to give ourselves a pretty aggressive start.

"Debbie will allow us to create some stablility in the middle-order and we aim to use her in a very effective way against the slower bowlers.

"Debbie has been amenable to that change. After a career of opening we felt she might resist the change but she has latched onto it pretty well and she has agreed that if the experiment doesn't work she will go back to the opening role," he said.

Rolls has a reputation for hitting the ball well square of the wicket and has the capacity to latch onto anything loose.

"She's a super-optimist, and I hope for her sake it works," he said.

Shrimpton said the side did not take a lot from its practice game against a Christchurch President's XI side. The game was played on a soft pitch where it was hard to get value for strokeplay.

However, the pitch at Centennial Park in Oamaru looks good for tomorrow's game and there is a lot of run in the outfield.

There was an area in front of the grandstand which reflected the ground's rugby use and which was a little uneven but otherwise everything was fine with the ground.

England coach Paul Farbrace took great comfort from his side's win over a Canterbury women's team in a 12-a-side game at the Christ's College Ground on Friday.

"I was really pleased with how we went. We got value for our shots and everyone was keen to make the most of it. Canterbury had the worst of the weather in the game but they stayed out and we got a result.

"We're looking forward to the one-day series with New Zealand. All 14 in our squad will get at least two games," he said.

Laura Harper was ill and missed the Canterbury game but is to play in Oamaru while missing from the game will be Dawn Holden, Arran Thompson and Kathryn Leng.

Bad weather in Christchurch had not upset England's preparations as it had been intending to focus more on batting drills rather than batting in the nets and it was easier to work on the drills inside, Farbrace said.

"We're looking for more consistency with the ball, raising our game with our fielding and more success with the bat.

"We're very keen to show New Zealand we have improved and if we are lucky enough to win a game out of the three we will be delighted," he said.