You can take the boy out of New Zealand, but you can’t take New Zealand out of the boy!
Northern Diamonds director of cricket James Carr, a former resident of the land of the long white cloud, is backing the host nation to make a significant impression on the forthcoming women’s World Cup, despite them suffering a thrilling opening day defeat earlier today against the West Indies.
Carr, whose CV notes a successful spell working as a cricket development officer in Otago, is backing Sophie Devine and co - she scored a century in a four-run defeat today - to reach the semi-finals along with three other favoured sides, including his first love England.
“I said this last year when we previewed England’s series, if New Zealand’s top four or five players are all fit and firing, then I can see them doing well at home,” he said.
“Maybe there’s a bit of romance from me in there, but they have put on a good showing against India (4-1 home series win) over the last couple of weeks, and I think they will make the semis.
“Australia are definitely front-runners. I thought they were ruthless in the Ashes at times.
“I don’t think England were that far behind, but they just get the job done when it matters.
“England are a really strong side with some very, very good professionals, and I’d be very disappointed if we don’t make the semis at least.
“Then, that fourth berth, I think I will go the obvious route and pick India.
“South Africa can also get on a run, the same with Pakistan and the West Indies. But I can’t really see past those four I mentioned if I’m honest.”
England have three Diamonds in their squad in Katherine Brunt, Nat Sciver and Lauren Winfield-Hill.
“I want to see all our Diamonds in the team, obviously, and I think all three of them are in our strongest eleven,” Carr continued.
“If they don’t play for any reason, selection or rest, it means we have a very strong bench. Competition is healthy for any squad. Fingers crossed, they all go well.”
The Diamonds’ boss is confident England can recover from their 12-4 Ashes defeat earlier this month, and they get an early opportunity for revenge when the start their title bid against Australia tomorrow (1am UK).
“Weather didn’t help us, did it,” he went on.
“Classic. English weather thwarts us in Australia!
“We’ve had two Ashes series now, 2019 over here and 2022 over there, where the score-lines have been pretty emphatic in Australia’s favour. But take individual games within those series and there were lots of near misses.
“I’m hoping England will be refreshed, and we know on their day we can beat every side in the world, including Australia.”
Carr watched the Ashes in continued wonder at the performances of 36-year-old all-rounder Brunt, who was outstanding in the drawn one-off Test Match in particular with eight wickets, including 5-60 in the first innings.
“Katherine epitomises everything we need in a young girl coming into the game and also in every domestic professional,” he said.
“She’s incredible with the ball - both her skill and never say die attitude.
“On day three of the Test when we had them 12-2 and it rained, we were really hurt by that. Had they not gone off, I think Katherine would have run through them and left us chasing 120 or 130.
“Instead, they ended up getting better conditions on day four and set us 260.
“Katherine puts a smile on my face just watching her. Her mastery is unbelievable, and then on top of that it’s her energy.
“If you’re a young player who wants a career in cricket, what an inspiration Katherine must be.”
England’s squad also includes two players in Vipers’ spinner Charlie Dean and Thunder all-rounder Emma Lamb who made their international debuts last summer on the back of strong regional performances.
That clearly shows that the hard work of Carr and all those involved at domestic level is paying off.
“The domestic system has a really important role to play,” he said. “We’re only as strong as our foundations.
“There are eight regions, and we’re starting to build a good foundation of domestic cricketers.
“The Hundred is the next layer on the cake, then you have the international development programmes, England A, and the Under 19s will come with the inauguration of the Under 19s World Cup.
“Emma Lamb’s inclusion in the squad is a really encouraging one.
“She has been in the system for a long time, being in the Academy, and she has almost come back to domestic cricket as a bit of a finishing school.
“The Thunder should take a lot of pride in her selection, but the domestic structure as a whole should do as well because we’re all contributing to its strength and development of players.
“We’re all guilty of putting Australia on a pedestal.
“Yes, we should look at what they do because they do things well. But they shouldn’t define us.
“As a nation, we need to do things our way. And we are doing that.
“Australian players have become known through their performances in the WNCL and their domestic competitions.
“We are starting to achieve that as well.
“Any graduate of that is a real shot in the arm.”