Retirement of White Ferns’ veterans was a ‘wakeup call’ for Suzie Bates

Second T20 international: White Ferns v Bangladesh

Where: University Oval, Dunedin; When: Sunday 2pm

Live coverage: Spark Sport, live updates on Stuff

The retirements of White Ferns veterans Amy Satterthwaite and Katey Martin hit Suzie Bates hard, reminding her to cherish every moment.

Bates has played the bulk of her international career with Satterthwaite and Martin, who both announced their retirements following this year’s ODI World Cup.

Satterthwaite’s long White Ferns tenure ended abruptly after controversially not being awarded a national contract for 2022-23subsequently calling time on her New Zealand career.

Having played so much cricket with the duo, Bates, who debuted for New Zealand in 2006, described their retirements as a “wakeup call” for her. Nearing the back-end of her career, the 35-year-old said it had given her a fresh perspective to savor every day in the White Ferns’ environment and demand the absolute best of herself.

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“Katey Martin finishing and Amy Satterthwaite finishing, you sort of look around and realize it’s not that far away. I think that just makes you appreciate every tour, every game more than I ever have,” Bates said ahead of Sunday’s second T20 against Bangladesh at her University Oval home in Dunedin.

“You reflect when those things happen and it makes you not take the game for granted.”

Suzie Bates hugs Katey Martin ahead of Martin's 100th ODI match during this year's World Cup.

Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

Suzie Bates hugs Katey Martin ahead of Martin’s 100th ODI match during this year’s World Cup.

Seeing best friend Martin step away from the White Ferns was a sad moment for Bates. They were longstanding teammates with the Otago Sparks and New Zealand. Not hearing Martin’s loud voice and laugh at training was unusual, but she still bumped into her regularly through her work as a Spark Sport commentator.

“We’ve been through a lot together. Our families have always watched the highs and lows and lived that with us, so there was a big gap when she left and having your best mate on tour.

“Amy, for me, it was a real wakeup call to make sure I was giving my best to the team on and off the field. We’ll stay in contact forever because she was one of the greats and one of my best friends in the team.”

Suzie Bates has been a fixture in the White Ferns since making her international debut in 2006.

Chris Symes

Suzie Bates has been a fixture in the White Ferns since making her international debut in 2006.

Bates, who is New Zealand’s leading ODI and T20I women’s run-scorer in history, hadn’t set a timeline for retirement, but realized the end was near.

The T20 World Cup in South Africa in February is the team’s next pinnacle event, but whether it carries on through to the ODI World Cup in India in 2025 is less certain.

“I promised myself after the World Cup [this year] and it not going to plan that I was just going to enjoy my cricket as much as I could, otherwise that was going to be it because you only get certain moments once in a lifetime and I wanted to enjoy them and so far I have this year, so we keep on rolling.”

Suzie Bates takes a stunning catch to remove Australia's Rachael Haynes in the T20 semifinal at the Commonwealth Games.

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Suzie Bates takes a stunning catch to remove Australia’s Rachael Haynes in the T20 semifinal at the Commonwealth Games.

As long as she was enjoying her cricket, injury-free, and contributing to the team on and off the field, she was keen to carry on.

There was a positive feeling in the White Ferns after their T20 bronze at the Commonwealth Games and T20 and ODI series wins in the West Indies in October. New head coach, Australian Ben Sawyer, and the coaching group had also re-energized some of the older players in the squad, she said.

Suzie Bates blasts one away for the Sydney Sixers against the Adelaide Strikers in this season's Big Bash.

Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Suzie Bates blasts one away for the Sydney Sixers against the Adelaide Strikers in this season’s Big Bash.

Bates has just returned from the Women’s T20 Big Bash in Australia, where her new side, the Sydney Sixers made the final, but lost to the Adelaide Strikers by 10 runs – who had Satterthwaite as their assistant coach.

After three seasons with the Strikers she was pleased for her former teammates, but said it was gutting to come up short in the decider.

The Sixers, coached by former England captain Charlotte Edwards, boasted an All Star caliber lineup, which also featured star England left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone and Australian standouts Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, and Ashleigh Gardner.

“It was one of the experiences I’ll never forget because it was a world-class environment. Unfortunately we didn’t win, so it doesn’t really count for much, but I’d love another opportunity, just the experience they had and the professionalism of that group.”

Sunday’s T20 will remarkably be just the second time Bates has played a match in her Dunedin hometown for the White Ferns.

She finally got to play in front of family and friends at the University Oval during the World Cup in March against Bangladesh – but the match was in major doubt due to bad weather.

Bates turned it on for the home crowd, hitting an unbeaten 79 from 68 balls as New Zealand won by nine wickets in the drizzle in a rain-reduced contest.

“It was one of those days, where I thought it wasn’t going to happen. It was a rollercoaster of emotions and I’ll never forget that day of cricket because I was in my bedroom just not wanting to open the curtains because the weather just looked dreadful [before the match].”

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