Bernadine Bezuidenhout named in New Zealand's squad for Women's T20 World Cup

Wicketkeeper-batter is on a comeback trail after missing two years of cricket to deal with health issues

Bernadine Bezuidenhout swats one into the leg side, Canterbury Magicians v Northern Spirit, Christchurch, , November 24, 2017

Bernadine Bezuidenhout has shown form for domestic side Northern Districts this season  •  Getty Images

Wicketkeeper-batter Bernadine Bezuidenhout, who last played for New Zealand in January 2020, has been included in the squad for next month's Women's T20 World Cup. Bezuidenhout, 29, is on a comeback trail after two years out of the game to recover from a health issue after being diagnosed with Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S).
She replaces Jessica McFadyen in the squad, the only change in personnel from the team's previous assignment, the home series against Bangladesh in December 2022.
Since returning to playing this summer, Bezuidenhout has scored a century for Northern Districts - 101 off 95 balls - and currently sits third on the domestic one-day tournament's runs charts. In the domestic T20s this season, she has 133 runs in six games at a strike rate of 111.76.
"For the past seven or eight months we've been looking to establish a brand of cricket which we believe spectators will enjoy and, at the same time, gives us the best possible chance of success in major tournaments," Ben Sawyer, New Zealand Women's head coach, said of Bezuidenhout's inclusion. "With both the bat in hand and her work behind the stumps, we believe that Bernie will contribute positively to that style of play.
"Bernie has already shown this season what she can do with both bat and gloves, and we think that her previous international experience will stand her in good stead in this World Cup."
Bezuidenhout had played for South Africa before qualifying for New Zealand in 2018.

Sophie Devine fit to play

Captain Sophie Devine, who had missed Wellington's last three domestic T20s as a precautionary measure in response to a minor foot issue, has been declared fit to travel to South Africa for the World Cup.
The squad also features two New Zealand Under-19 players who are already in South Africa, contesting the junior women's showpiece event - batter Georgia Plimmer and left-arm spinner Fran Jonas. Jonas had withdrawn from the Under-19 tournament earlier this week due to a minor calf injury, but should be fit in time for the senior World Cup that kicks off on February 10.
New Zealand will play three practice games against England in the lead-up to that, as well as official warm-up games against West Indies and England on February 6 and 8, before their first group match against Australia on February 11. South Africa, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are the other teams in New Zealand's group.