White Ferns stars make other sporting sacrifices to embark on six week UK tour

The White Ferns are to embark on a six week tour of the United Kingdom with a number of players having to put other sporting commitments on hold.

All-rounder Kate Ebrahim has played rugby for Canterbury and Taranaki as a halfback.

"I jumped in and played for the Canterbury team, something I didn't think would happen, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Canterbury rugby team," said Ebrahim.

Not wanting to pick up a rugby-related injury before the UK tour, Ebrahim is putting all her focus on cricket.

"I thoroughly enjoy that position (halfback) working hard in behind the forwards and feeding the backs."

With most of the White Ferns being part-time it means they often have opportunities to fit other sports around cricket.

Jess Watkins is yet to make her debut for the White Ferns, her recent double century at an age group tournament she partially credits to the fact she's still playing club hockey.

"When you are younger you play a lot of sports and usually with hand eye (co-ordination), you are usually good at other hand eye sports," said Watkins.

The 20-year-old has also played representative hockey.

"Hockey is fantastic there's a lot of cross overs in hockey, with the swinging over a hockey stick and swinging of a cricket bat."

Kate Ebrahim played half for the Canterbury and Taranaki women’s rugby sides. Source: 1 NEWS


Todd Astle offered first Black Caps contract, two dropped for lacking consistency

Canterbury all-rounder Todd Astle has been offered a Black Caps contract for the first time in his career as part of the 20-strong squad for the 2018-19 season - but two former teammates weren't so lucky.

Selector Gavin Larsen said the 31-year-old spinner had earned his place after strong performances in the past 12 months and featured in plans for the Black Caps' upcoming matches.

"Todd's progress over the past 12 months has been exciting to see. When fit, he made the most of his opportunities in both Test and ODI cricket," said Larsen.

"We have a big summer ahead; we know Todd performs well in New Zealand conditions, and we also have a spin-friendly tour against Pakistan coming up.

"Between Todd, Ish and Mitchell our spin bowling stocks have probably never looked better."

The criteria for selection remained the same as it had in previous seasons, with twice as much weight given to Tests over ODIs and T20s.

As a result, Neil Broom and Jimmy Neesham were not offered renewed contracts.

"Jimmy and Neil didn't show the consistency required over the past year and we'd like to see them go back and demand our attention again through domestic performance," Larsen said.

"We'll continue to monitor the progress of a number of fringe players, who will have the chance to continue to push their case through the NZA programme and home domestic season."

The contracts will take effect on August 1.

2018-19 offered BLACKCAPS contracts: Corey Anderson, Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson, George Worker.

New Zealand's Todd Astle celebrates a wicket. New Zealand Black Caps v West Indies, first One Day International cricket, Cobham Oval, Whangarei, New Zealand. Wednesday, 20 December, 2017. Copyright photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz
New Zealand's Todd Astle celebrates a wicket against the West Indies during the first ODI match at Cobham Oval in Whangarei. Source: Photosport



Brendon McCullum predicts death of Test cricket - 'Society is changing, isn't it?'

Former Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum has painted a bleak future for Test cricket, predicting the longest format of the game will die out due to the rising popularity of shorter versions.

McCullum, who played 101 Test for New Zealand before retiring from international cricket in 2016, told Cricket Monthly that interest in five-day matches was dying.

"I firmly believe that test cricket won't be around in time, because there's only so many teams that can afford to play it," he said.

"I'm also a realist that people are turning up and watching T20 not just at games but also on TV - society's changing, isn't it?

"People don't have four or five days to commit to Test cricket. They might watch the first session, and the last session on day five if it's tight, but they're not going to then you strip it back a level as well and you think domestically, how can teams around the world afford to even exist?"

McCullum plays in five professional T20 leagues globally while also being just one of four players (Dwayne Bravo, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson are the others) to have appeared in 11 straight seasons of the IPL.

The Kiwi batsman is also the second all-time run-scorer in T20 cricket with more than 9000 runs – second only to Chris Gayle.

Brendon McCullum of the Brisbane Heat
Brendon McCullum of the Brisbane Heat Source: Getty