Suzie Bates: Mithali is a class player

"I spoke to Mithali and Jhulan, I would have loved to have them there (at the women's Big Bash). They are two of the greats in women’s cricket, especially for India," says the New Zealander.

Suzie Bates won the Women's ODI Cricketer of the Year in 2013.   -  K Pichumani

Suzie Bates has been one of the pioneers of women’s cricket not only in New Zealand, but in the world. Ahead of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20, Suzie spoke to Sportstar about T20 cricket, Brendon McCullum, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami among other things.

Both Suzie and McCullum come from Otago. So what did McCullum tell her ahead of the World T20?

He has been a real inspiration for New Zealand cricketers. He is a down to earth guy. He said if there’s any time I needed to chat about captaincy and leadership, he would be free to do that and we just talked about the game.

On the absence of Indian players in women’s Big Bash:

I spoke to Mithali and Jhulan, I would have loved to have them there. They are two of the greats in women’s cricket, especially for India. Jhulan would have loved the experience in particular, because she likes to socialise and get to know other players. Mithali is just a class player.

On whether sexism is present in cricket:

I think the product in the past, in all forms of sport, has not been about their capability on the field, it has been about their looks and marketability. That needs to change. The material thing has been promoted more, which needs to change.

On not being able to play Test cricket yet:

It is a tough one. Twenty20 cricket has been massive for the game globally and it's really improved. I still feel there is a place for Test cricket and it is the greatest test for a cricketer. I pray that in my career, I will get one.

On how to promote women’s cricket better:

If it is not on your face, you don’t get to know about it. For the men’s game, it is definitely on your face. You can follow the IPL, Big Bash; international cricketers are always on TV. The more we can get televised, the more it is in the media, and then it will grow.

Women’s IPL or Test cricket?

IPL is for entertainment, so you would want to promote IPL on TV. However, Test cricket still needs to be played, whether it is televised or not.

Her sporting idols:

Brendon McCullum is my cricketing idol. Growing up, I liked watching Michael Jordan. Now it is Steph Curry from the Golden State Warriors.

Things she does when she is in India:

I just love walking on the streets with the locals, take tuk-tuk rides, going around the local markets and having a look around. Last time we did Bollywood dancing, and I want to do that again. I really enjoyed that. I do make sure I have some curries.

On Martin Crowe:

He was one of those guys, who led the way for cricket in New Zealand. He thought about the game a lot. I met him once, I was star-struck. It is sad time for New Zealand cricket.

What she has learnt over the last 10 years:

You can’t get too focused on the results. You can’t take losses too hard and you can’t get too high when you are doing well, because cricket is fickle game.

Difference in facilities in different countries:

I love touring India because it is a cricket mad nation. Everyone wants to help you train the best you can. Australia is probably leading the way in terms of women’s cricket and the facilities they provide across the board, for men and women. England, obviously being a country where they think cricket has been made in heaven, the resources and facilities are good. The likes of West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka have started to improve. I have never had any issue touring and with the facilities provided to teams.

Suzie, who represented her nation in basketball at the 2008 Olympics, on how she manages to maintain a balance between the two sports:

After getting into the academy, you have to be a full-time basketball or full-time rugby player, whereas we had the flexibility. It was just a matter of doing what I loved. One was in the winter and the other was in the summer. It was a nice balance to get away from cricket and vice-versa.