Bates' presence to lift Otago

Suzie Bates
Suzie Bates
Suzie Bates needs no introduction.

But then again the White Ferns batsman has been missing for most of the season.

The Otago Sparks are hosting Northern Districts in back-to-back one-day matches at Brooklands Park this weekend.

Bates, who has achieved many firsts during her wonderful career, will chalk up another couple.

It will be both her first home game and first one-day game for the Sparks this season.

It is at the very minor end of achievements for her, obviously. Bates has been a regular fixture in the team since making her debut as a schoolgirl 16 years ago after all.

But as the women's game has moved from an amateur set-up to more of a semi-professional sport, Bates' has been drawn away to play overseas more often.

She has not always been around to carry Otago to victory like she did during the 2013-14 one-day final when she pummelled 99 to help her side claim its first national banner in 51 years.

But her presence this weekend will lift the team in an immeasurable way. While you can always count her runs and wickets, it is a much more difficult equation to assess her value in the dressing room.

Perhaps one or two of the younger players will grow another arm or a leg, maybe both.

One thing is for sure, they will be better players with Bates watching.

They will need to soak up the experience, though, because Bates will miss the final two games of the campaign.

She will be in Australia with the White Ferns trying to win the Rose Bowl series for the first time since 1999.

That would also be another first for Bates but definitely at the major end of achievements.

The White Ferns will be missing coach Haidee Tiffen. She is taking leave following what she described as a ''confronting'' review of the disappointing World T20 campaign.

The review recommended all support staff roles be advertised at the completion of their contract periods.

However you spin that, it is basically an invitation to look for a new job.

Bates stepped down as White Ferns captain in September citing, among other things, selection disagreements with Tiffen.

She felt with two successive reviews suggesting the White Ferns needed more support, something had to give. However, the timing of Tiffen's decision to take leave was not ideal.

''Ideally she would have stayed on for these last three games and then we had the opportunity to see if there were more coaches interested out there,'' Bates said.

''But she obviously decided that she doesn't want to be there.''

Bates said the media ''jumped on'' comments she made about her selection disagreements with Tiffen when she announced she was stepping down as captain. But her relationship with Tiffen was solid.

''Since I've stepped down our relationship has been great. I've really enjoyed being in the environment.

''When I was captain and she was coach we did have the odd disagreement around selection. Often they were close friends that were missing out so that was confrontational at times.

''But I guess that is just the nature of being in that position. At the end of the day I stepped down because I felt like the team wasn't progressing forward and I wasn't giving myself the best chance to perform.''

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