She represented her country as a basketball player in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She was star struck by US basketball superstars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. As a shy 20 years old from Dunedin, it wasn’t easy for her to interact with them. Ten years down the line and she is ruling the T20 World of Women’s Cricket. She is Suzie Bates.
One of the finest white ferns of all time, Suzie Bates always wanted to play basketball and cricket and eventually turned her dreams into reality.
In a family with a strong sporting background, Suzie learned cricket while playing with her brothers Tom and Henry. Her priority was only to compete with her brother. She had a passion for both basketball and cricket. But she never thought of making a career in sports. Sarah Ulmer is the name why Suzie took sports seriously. During 2001 Sarah was becoming a household name in New Zealand. A workshop interaction at the school with Sarah while Suzie was just 9 made her realize her actual dreams. The cycling champion went on to win gold in Athens Olympic, 2004, and Suzie went on to live her life out of sports.
Suzie was first spotted as a cricket talent during a national event for Otago Girls’ High School. By the age of 15, she was representing the Otago Sparks in New Zealand’s national women’s cricket league. It was her blistering 183 off 152 balls gave her the attention and she was picked up to play for New Zealand against India in 2006. Her first T20 match was against South Africa in 2007. The right-handed batter scored her first ODI century at the age of 19. From the very first day she gave a good account of her skill and became a key player for the white ferns in the limited over matches.
The best part about Bates is she always takes her game to the next level in the big matches. The attacking top order batter always gives the White Ferns the much-awaited push right from the beginning. In 2009 Suzie was one of the vital faces in New Zealand’s world cup campaign, and she did justice to that. She took 4 for 7 against South Africa in the group stage and displayed her bowling skills. But it was the smashing 168 that stole the show. She scored it in just off 105 balls against Pakistan in the semi-final, the third highest by a woman cricketer at that time, and took the team to the final against Australia.
Although she was doing extremely well, Bates took a permanent break from basketball in 2011 when she was offered captaincy of New Zealand women’s cricket team. It was her dedication towards the sports that made her one the first four New Zealand women to earn a professional contract that made her a full-time cricketer officially. One of the noteworthy aspects of her captaincy that it had no negative effect on her batting and 2013 world cup is the biggest testimony of that. The team finished at fourth but Bates shined.
The player of the Tournament at the 2013 World Cup went on to win ICC’s one-day Player of the Year. She won the ICC one day player again in 2015 and claimed T20 award along with it. Bates is currently leading the chart of most runs in T20 women’s cricket with 2913 runs in 105 matches with a blazing strike rate of 111.99. She scored 124 not out off 66 balls this year against England that is also the highest by any New Zealand woman cricketer. No wonder Suzie Bates is an easy pick for the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia and Kia Super League in the United Kingdom. Her all round effort of attacking batting and medium pace handy bowling is what a balanced team always desires.
In her long journey, she has battled against depression and anxiety. During her Olympic days, a national basketball coach told her how unfit she was for the international level. She could either leave the sports or work on her fitness. She chose the second. She worked hard and found her name among the legends like Debbie Hockley, Sara McGlashan, and Amy Watkins as one of the few women cricketers who played 100 ODIs for New Zealand.
In this long journey, Suzie Bates battled against depression as well. She herself went on record to say how cricket affects mentally. According to her cricket is probably the worst sport for mental health. It is not really easy to cope up with expectations and busy schedules but Suzie is balancing it pretty well. Her successful careers in two different sports show how she is skilled to walk in the odds.
In such a successful career the only missing part is a World Cup triumph. Suzie Bates has not yet won a world cup in any format. T20 World Cup 2018 is certainly a good chance for the White Ferns as 2021 will be a little too far for Suzie. For a legend like her who deserves every bit of the biggest victory, it is kind of a do or die situation and her team must understand that. Although White Ferns did not have a good start thanks to the blistering 100 from Harmanpreet Kaur, Bates still shone and got a 50 during the chase giving some early hope to chase down the mammoth 194. In the process, she also passed Charlotte Edwards as the highest run scorer in Women’s World T20. She would certainly like herself and team to do slightly better to reach the Semi-final spot from this group of death.