The 34-year-old spent a long while out of favour, having not played an international game since 2017 prior to her T20 World Cup recall
New Zealand batsman Rachel Priest is determined to make the most of her T20 World Cup opportunity after returning to the White Ferns’ squad for the first time in more than two years.
The 34-year-old spent a long while out of favour, having been excluded from the national side’s central contract list in August 2018 after being dropped in 2017.
She had experienced a lean period with the bat in ODI cricket, making 440 runs in her previous 19 games at an average of 23.18 when that call was made.
Until returning to the fold ahead of the upcoming tournament in Australia, Priest’s last T20I had come in February 2017. Then-coach Haidee Tiffen claimed that the decision was fitness-based.
In October 2017, she said: “We’ve been clear with Rachel about the areas we want to see her improve in. She’s taken the feedback on board and is committed to putting the work in. We believe Rachel still has a lot to offer the White Ferns.”
And now, she has returned, tasked with taking some of the pressure off Sophie Devine – one of the world game’s in-form players – and Suzie Bates – the top run-scorer in the history of the tournament, who have shouldered much of the run-scoring burden in Priest’s absence.
“I’m going to try to be aggressive at the top of the batting order,” Priest said. “That’s just how I naturally play.
“We’ve got some really classy batters in Suzie and Sophie and hopefully I can get us off to a good start and they can come and do the rest. As a keeper, I want to be supportive of the team and keep that buzz going on the field.
“The squad has changed a little since I’ve been away but we’ve got a really strong T20 team with many of the players having experience around the world in English and Australian competitions.
“To come back into the fold and play a World Cup with these players straight away is pretty special.”
Rachel Priest is returning to the New Zealand fold for the first time in more than two years
Priest’s own experiences of the competition have been mixed; only England and Australia have lost fewer games in the history of the event, but runners-up medals in 2009 and 2010 are all they have to show for their efforts.
“We’re here to try and win the tournament,” she added. “My memories from previous tournaments are both good and bad because it’s really nice to make a World Cup final, but we’ve lost on both occasions.
“Many of us in the current squad have been in the position of coming second and we want to finally get across the line.
“In T20 cricket, all it needs is one person to change the game and we’ve got some really amazing players in our team who have the ability to take the game away from teams.
“We all need to be on board and firing because we know that a couple of good performances out of everyone will take us through to that final in Melbourne.”
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