Australia opening bowler Megan Schutt has called her form in the ODI series against New Zealand "a bit average", admitting the switch from T20 to the longer version has challenged her as the team hunt down the world-record-equaling 21 ODI wins in a row.
Schutt, who has played 18 of the current 20-match winning run, has claimed three wickets in the two ODIs - although her brace in the second game came in the final over - and her two opening spells of five overs in each outing have gone for a combined tally of just 25 runs but her overall economy rate of 4.74 is above her career figure of 4.22. Such are the standards the Australians set themselves that Schutt has felt frustrated at her contributions.
"A bit average, to be honest," she said. "I haven't been overly pleased with how I've bowled. Think I've had some good overs in there but have had some poor ones as well. For me the ODIs over the last couple of days - I've felt like I've struggled a bit with my length; need to get a bit fuller, but think that's the transition from playing so much T20 cricket for a long period and then we are converting back with the WBBL. I've been a little bit disappointed but, hopefully, will find some consistency."
There's been a turnaround of new players and they keep us old ones on our toes. [We think], 'Crap! These girls will take our spots one day, so you may as well play your best as long as you can'Schutt on the influx of talented youngsters like Annabel Sutherland
Schutt said that she had not been able to find quite the amount of swing that she expected in the mornings - Meg Lanning has bowled first on winning both tosses - and she has had to focus on ensuring she hasn't offered up too many drives to the New Zealand batters.
"In the first couple of games my eyes lit up a bit being the morning at AB (Allan Border) Field; there's normally a bit more juice in the pitch, and I haven't quite had the swing I thought I'd have - not sure if it's me, the ball, the pitch or all the above so had to switch up after a couple of overs," she said. "Quite often when I get ahead of myself I chuck up too wide hoping it will swing and give them a nice half volley. I have been quite aware of not doing that, so have been trying to adjust my lines to straighten up."
During the ODI series, Schutt has opened the bowling with Annabel Sutherland who made her debut in the format in the opening match. Sutherland is a player with significant expectations attached to her, mentioned as being someone to replicate the role of Australia's premier allrounder Ellyse Perry in the years to come and, for Schutt, it has been exciting to have her at the opposite end.
"Raw pace," Schutt said when asked to sum up what Sutherland provides. "It's really cool for me to do my thing at one end and have someone who's the complete opposition - she's fast, gets that bounce and a bit of swing at times, too, so she's an exciting prospect and balances out [the attack] really well. Not having Pez (Perry) at the other end we need someone who's doing that...and think that's where we work well together, at her age to see the pace and the ruthlessness she has is really exciting."
It is an example, too, of an emerging young player keeping the motivation levels high in a squad that has experienced a huge amount of success. "There's been a turnaround of new players and they keep us old ones on our toes. [We think], 'Crap! These girls will take our spots one day, so you may as well play your best as long as you can,'" Schutt said.
The squad continues to insist the 21-match record of Ricky Ponting's 2003 ODI side has not been discussed and that if they do level the mark - and potentially go and beat it whenever their next one-day assignment might be - it will purely be a byproduct of their steely focus.
"Obviously deep down it would be cool to reach the record but the way we explain it is it's one game at a time and every game we go out we are trying to win," Schutt said. "Losing sucks and we are pretty hard on ourselves when we do. It makes you dive deep and pick little things out but think we do that even when we are successful. That's the best part; winning is great but we know we can still get better."
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo