9 Nov 2019

Amelia Kerr: No longer the baby

12:15 pm on 9 November 2019

White Fern Amelia Kerr is relishing her first season in the Australian Big Bash League, where she's no longer the youngest in the team.

Legspinner Amelia Kerr is part of the White Ferns spin heavy bowling line-up.

Amelia Kerr Photo: Photosport

Kerr became the youngest White Fern ever when she debuted at the age of 16 against Pakistan in late 2016.

The leg-spinner has been a regular for the side ever since and her googly is regarded as one of the best in world cricket.

Kerr turned 19 last month so the description 'teenage prodigy' might not apply for much longer.

She's still the baby in the New Zealand team but for the Brisbane Heat, 16-year-old rising star Charli Knott has assumed that role.

Kerr debuted for the Wellington Blaze when she was just 14 and it's only now that a few younger players are starting to come through in their domestic programme.

"I've been the young one for a while now. Coming into the Blaze I was quite a bit younger than the others, so slowly it's changing. I'm still in the young kids' group but not the youngest anymore, which is a nice change," Kerr said.

Kerr said she was excited to get a contract to play in the Women's Big Bash League.

"It's been awesome. The facilities where we train, teammates, coaches, everybody has been so welcoming and it's an awesome group to be involved with. So I've loved the first month I've had here and I'm really looking forward to the next half [of the season]."

Taking three wickets in four balls in her WBBL debut three weeks ago was the ideal start.

"I guess coming over as an overseas pro there's always a little bit of extra pressure on you to perform. Every game I play I want to contribute to this team on the field but also off the field just as much.

"It was nice to get a few wickets under my belt and then it's just a matter of carrying through for the rest of the league, doing what I can to be my best for the team."

Two weekends ago a quick blast from Kerr turned the game against the Hobart Hurricanes on its head.

Chasing 124, the Heat slumped to 41-4 early and required 29 off the last three overs.

Kerr stepped up to the plate hitting 19 off the 18th over, including four boundaries, before the Heat pinched a gripping five-wicket win to get their title defence back on track.

On her debut Kerr was presented with her first Heat cap pre-match by senior player Beth Mooney who read a good luck message from her Wellington-based parents Robbie and Jo.

"It was pretty special, what Beth said was extremely nice and then for her to make the effort to get a message from my parents made it even more special. I got quite emotional and it meant a lot to me."

Kerr is relishing testing herself every week against Australian stars like Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry and other overseas pros from the likes of England.

"It's just nice to play good cricket every week so you get challenged and ultimately improve your cricket.

"Going into games you don't want to be intimidated [by star players]. You're both on the park so for me you're competing in the battle with them.

"Obviously you respect that they're world class players but it's nice to be able to play them a bit more heading into a World Cup next year."

With the Women's T20 World Cup to be held in Australia next year Kerr said it was great to have a strong contingent of White Ferns playing in the WBBL.

"I think we've got seven White Ferns over here. Playing with and against Australian players and in the conditions as well and with the facilities and everything, we get a lot out of it.

"It's also the trainings they are pretty amazing and getting outside all the time with the weather. "

The WBBL was a ratings blockbuster when it was launched in 2015 and Kerr said she was enjoying playing in the world's top domestic competition in a country where the sport was huge.

Amelia Kerr

Amelia Kerr Photo: Photosport

"It's really well supported and getting a lot better. This woman's big bash is one of the best tournaments going around. It's nice just to have that support and getting people to come, and watch games and the media around it.

"And it just gives us the opportunity to inspire young girls but also boys as well to get involved in cricket and for them to know you can make a real career out of it one day."

This is Kerr's first year out of school and while she's busy with cricket she's also enjoying studying online.

Kerr, who is doing a BA majoring in education and sociology, said it was nice to have some balance to get away from cricket.

Kerr admits her timing couldn't be better in terms of the opportunities now on offer for female cricketers.

New Zealand Cricket has made significant improvements in recent years, and now offer contracts which allow White Ferns to play as full-time professionals.

"When I first got into the White Ferns it was nice to be able to see the change as it was starting to get a bit more professional, more games on TV and all of that.

"Now it just keeps going in the right direction every year. So it's a really exciting time and to know that I can do this for the next 10 or 15 years as a career is really exciting."

Kerr has been put up in an apartment in Brisbane and said they were well looked after by the franchise

"[They] make us feel very comfortable and I think it's important to feel comfortable while being away from home as well and it just helps too with performance."

Kerr lives on her own but White Fern teammate Maddie Green is in the same apartment complex.

"So we've been having a few dinners - she's been cooking most nights. It's really nice having her in the Heat, we get along pretty well. And she's a great person. So yeah, good to have her around."

As for where she wants to take her game, Kerr said she was always looking to improve her batting so she could become a genuine all-rounder.

"Obviously in this team my main skill is being a bowler so it's making sure I do that well and then batting's really important to me.

"In the future I want to be an allrounder so I'm always working on every part of my game, but batting is something I want to develop a lot."

Given Kerr set a world batting record in women's one-day cricket at the age of 17 with an unbeaten 232 against Ireland last year, that goal is well on track.