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Fast bowlers Jess Kerr and Molly Penfold and batter Lauren Down have returned to New Zealand's squad for the tour of West Indies starting September 16. The trio replaced bowlers Claudia Green, Rosemary Mair and wicketkeeper-batter Jessica McFadyen from the squad that won the bronze medal at the inaugural Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last month.
Jess Kerr had withdrawn from the competition in Birmingham because of a foot injury while Down had taken time off to prioritise her well-being.
"We've seen the success Jess has enjoyed on the international stage in her career to date and it's been encouraging to see her working her way back from injury, and training with the London Spirit over here in the Hundred in recent weeks," Ben Sawyer, New Zealand head coach, said. "It's great to see Lauren return after taking some personal time away from the game. She was flying with the bat heading into the ODI World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year only to be ruled out of the tournament with that thumb injury. So we're looking forward to welcoming her back into the environment."
Penfold had made her international debut last year against England and was part of New Zealand's reserves for the World Cup earlier this year. "I first saw Molly bowling when I was working with Australia at the ODI World Cup and remember telling them how good I thought she was, just from watching her practice," Sawyer, who was Australia's fast bowling coach at the World Cup, said. "You could see she had all the natural attributes for fast bowling and I've been sent a few videos of her recent progress - she seems to be going really well."
Teenagers Izzy Gaze, Georgia Plimmer and Fran Jonas kept their places in the squad and so did Eden Carson, the offspinner. While Gaze was New Zealand's preferred wicketkeeper at the Commonwealth Games, Carson impressed in the two matches she played, and Plimmer gave a glimpse of her attacking style on her debut against Australia in the semi-final, where she hit three fours in her 17-run knock.
Sawyer, who was the coach of Birmingham Phoenix - led by Sophie Devine - at the Women's Hundred, said that Hayley Jensen's inputs from the West Indies, where she played for Trinbago Knight Riders in the Women's 6ixty and now is part of the inaugural Women's Caribbean Premier League, also helped in preparing for the tour.
"Hayley Jensen is already over in the Caribbean playing in the CPL and she said the conditions are extremely hot and the wickets are keeping a little low - so that's what we can expect," Sawyer said.
While Devine, Suzie Bates, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Lea Tahuhu and Maddy Green were involved in the Hundred, and Jensen is in the West Indies already, the other players had a camp in Lincoln, with assistant coach Sara McGlashan overlooking the preparations. Having done well at the Commonwealth Games by beating England to win the bronze medal, New Zealand's next big goal is the T20 World Cup in South Africa early next year.
"I know the team took a lot of confidence from winning that bronze-medal match against England," Sawyer said. "To do it in front of a packed house at Edgbaston and to do it so convincingly will have given the whole unit so much belief.
"This tour will be important for us to continue building on the good work done in England. We'll of course be out to win both series in the Caribbean - but will also be looking to offer opportunities to different players as we try and nail down our combinations for the T20 World Cup and refine our game-plans.
"We'll also be giving the one-day series plenty of attention, having identified that as the format most in need of improvement."
New Zealand and West Indies play three ODIs - part of the ICC Women's Championship - followed by five T20Is. All the games will be played at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua. This is the first time New Zealand are touring the Caribbean since 2014, when the hosts won the ODIs 4-0 while New Zealand won the T20Is 2-1.
Squad: Sophie Devine (capt), Suzie Bates, Eden Carson, Lauren Down, Izzy Gaze, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Jess Kerr, Amelia Kerr, Molly Penfold, Georgia Plimmer, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu