Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Amelia Kerr is only 20, but has rapidly developed into being one of the game's premier allrounders. Currently in the WBBL village in Sydney, she's looking to help Brisbane Heat defend the crown they won last year. In this chat with ESPNcricinfo, she talks of lockdown, how studying gives her a release from the pressures of cricket, wanting to win a 50-over World Cup in front of her home fans and much more.
What is the most challenging part about playing in the WBBL?
For me, in a way, I always focus on how I can contribute to the team. But there's probably a bit of expectation because they're paying you as an overseas player to perform well. So it's about doing well. I guess you just have to back yourself. They've picked you because you're good enough, so it's important for me to take out the external pressures. Sometimes you can put too much pressure on yourself rather than what other people put on you. There's probably more expectation on me in these overseas leagues, so you have to strip it back. If I enjoy my cricket, it's when I'm playing at my best.
Did the WBBL [in 2019] come at the right time?
The WBBL came at a perfect time for me. It was my first year out of school, and so I felt I was ready to play. It worked well because it was in October-November rather than in the summer holidays, where you're away from family for Christmas. The timing was perfect. I'd had a bit more experience in international cricket and then the Brisbane Heat contacted me. It's always been a club I've liked, because of the New Zealand connection, and because Brendon McCullum was such a huge part of it. I was honoured that they thought of me. I can remember watching pretty much every single game that was played early on. Then later on with the WBBL, having some interest in watching some of the White Fern girls and wanting them to do well was great.
Almost a hat-trick on debut. That must've been special?
That was a special day, my debut. Being able to pick up a few wickets was awesome. But probably the most special memory for me was winning the tournament with Brisbane Heat. We played well all year, we had such great balance and belief that stemmed from the support staff to the captain to every player in the team. It topped off an amazing experience. I love playing Australia, it's so competitive. Then you come over to tournaments like these where some of the Australian players become your team-mates. At the end of the day, we're people who share a common interest in the sport we love. It's cool being able to compete, create friendships and learn. And then when you go back and play against them, you're competing with them. That is the beauty of sport.
Amelia Kerr came close to a hat-trick on her WBBL debut•Getty Images
Which batter has challenged you the most?
I think the last series against Australia, Rachael Haynes batted extremely well. She is a good player of spin, she had a clear game plan of how she was going to play me, so I enjoyed the battle of bowling with her. The opportunity to work out her game plan and outfox her made it very competitive for me.
How has the bio-bubble life been?
They've set it up pretty well. There is plenty to do. There's table tennis, basketball hoops and all of that. It can be overwhelming too, because there are eight teams staying here and a lot of people walking around at all times. But I guess we feel fortunate that we're able to still play during these times. It does make it harder with travel restrictions that you can't see your family and that you're away for a lot longer than usual because of quarantine at the start and end of your trip. So it is different, but we feel lucky.
Can it get draining on you mentally?
I'm pursuing BA in Education and Sociology, so I've got all my course work resources with me here in the bubble, and it gives me the balance to fit in some academics between the cricket and training. It gives me a bit of a release. I've been big on balance. If it was just cricket, it could consume your life and you'd ride the waves of professional life a lot more. In that sense, this a nice way to escape, I enjoy what I'm studying. The bubble life can give you more time, there's definitely a lot more down time, time for yourself. So having things to do helps. It's a good chance.
What did you do during this lockdown period, when the world came to a standstill?
I was at home with family. We were lucky to go out on runs, so I was still able to train. I have few weights in my garage at home, so could do some strength work. For me, it was about finding a routine, a pattern. I'm studying, so I had some university course work to do. I played the guitar, my sister plays the piano, so there was a lot of music at home. It was nice to spend time with family.
Amelia Kerr: 'It's cool being able to compete, create friendships and learn. And then when you go back and play against them, you're competing with them'•Getty Images
You come across like a cricket obsessive, who is always in the thick of things. Has it always been this way?
I loved cricket growing up. I tried to watch the game as much as I could. I'm a bit of a nuffy. I love the fact that each person goes about it differently. For me, in the men's game, I love watching Kane Williamson bat. How he goes about his innings, how technically correct he is. The ability he has to score all around the wicket is something I admire. Then when I was younger, being able to watch the White Ferns, especially from when they started playing on TV, had a big influence on me. I always looked up to Sophie Devine because she comes from Tawa, the place I come from. These days, there are certain others I enjoy watching. I've done a bit of work with Ish Sodhi. He's an awesome guy and I've loved a few training sessions we've had together. I just love watching legspinners bowl, the likes of Rashid Khan. So, yeah, I watch as much cricket as I can and there are a few people who have had a big influence on me.
How much of an influence has Sophie Devine had on you as a person?
My dad coached her when I was probably two years old! That was when Sophie started for Wellington. Seeing how successful she has been and now to playing alongside her is awesome. She captains the White Ferns now, and seeing the belief she has in her team-mates, the confidence she gives us, it makes you feel awesome. She is someone you can learn so much from.
You're just 20 but already a veteran of sorts, having played international cricket for five years. It must be surreal?
Yeah, it does. It was my dream from when I was nine or ten to represent New Zealand in cricket. To get the call-up after my 16th birthday was special. I didn't expect it to happen so soon. For me, the main thing is the enjoyment factor. I've been fortunate with the environments I've been involved with. That has helped me back myself and go out there and play with no fear. It's been a dream that I'm living from such a young age.
What is your biggest ambition in cricket?
Personally, I just want to be the best that I can be. Every game, every training session, I'm very competitive. So it's about bringing the best version of me. The dream is to win a World Cup, and we'll have an opportunity to do it in front of our home fans in 2022. It's very exciting to have one at home. If selected, I'm looking forward to that. Nothing beats playing in front of your home fans, family, friends and the grounds you grew up playing on and wanting to emulate your heroes. It's nice to have a bit of time with it being pushed back by a year, it gives us time to put in more work to be successful. Cricket-wise, I want to be remembered as a great allrounder, but also as a great team person. That helps get the best out of other people too.