Bates thrilled to be back for Sparks in T20s

Suzie Bates
Suzie Bates
There was a time when Suzie Bates would put her phone number on her bat. That way if it got lost, someone could call to arrange to return it.

She has come along way since then. The 32-year-old all-rounder is lucky if she spends 50 nights a year at home in Fairfield these days.

Her skills are in hot demand and she seldom says no to an opportunity. The sport has taken her all around the world.

Her schedule is awfully full. Too full, probably. But coming home to Dunedin to play for the Otago Sparks is always a thrill.

"They play for all the right reasons.

It just about having fun and I just get excited because I haven’t been around that much [lately] and I just want them to love it as much as I do and do as well as they can. It’s a really nice feeling."

Bates helped the Adelaide Strikers reach the final of the Australian Women’s Big Bash League on Sunday. They lost to the Brisbane Heat but any disappointment quickly dissolved following a delightful message from a fan.

The fan’s 9-year-old son had been watching the WBBL and wanted to "skip down the wicket like Suzie Bates" and clouted the ball over the neighbour’s roof.

"We were pretty disappointed after losing the final but just as I was flying home we got sent that message. Sometimes, in the heat of the battle, you forget what it is all about.

"But I think that is the most exciting thing about where the game is going. It is all about trying to play an exciting brand of cricket that boys and girls want to emulate.

"I hadn’t batted that well, so it was nice he wanted to copy some of my shots."

Bates was made a life member of the Otago Cricket Association last month. It is rare for a current player to be made a life member and she is the first woman to receive the honour.

"Hopefully I’m the first of more to come and it is pretty special they are recognising that I’ve given lots to Otago cricket so far.

"You can forget how long you’ve been playing for Otago because you are busy with so much other cricket. But hopefully I can still give a lot more back to the Sparks."

Bates, who made her Otago debut aged 15, will get that opportunity today. The Sparks play four twenty20 matches during the next three days in Lincoln.

Wellington is first up. Tomorrow they play Auckland in the morning and Northern Districts in the afternoon. On Sunday they play Auckland again.

The Sparks will be tough to beat. Bates, who last month became the first female player to notch 300 T20 games, adds considerable experience, as does fellow White Fern Katey Martin. Australian imports Lisa Griffith and Hannah Darlington are match-winners and Hayley Jensen has been carrying the one-day side with some tremendous efforts.

"I think we’ve got a good squad and if we play well enough we can beat any of the teams."

Otago v Wellington

Lincoln, today, 4pm

Otago: Suzie Bates, Emma Black, Ella Brown, Eden Carson, Millie Cowan, Hannah Darlington, Sophie Gray, Lisa Griffith, Bhagya Herath, Bella James, Hayley Jensen, Katey Martin (c), Sophie Oldershaw.

Wellington: Sophie Devine (c), Rebecca Burns, Deanna Doughty, Maddy Green, Liz Green-Perry, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Jess McFadyen, Beth Molony, Thamsyn Newton, Rachel Priest.

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