Allrounder Amelia Kerr has opted out of New Zealand Women's tour of England for three T20Is and five ODIs in September, citing the need to prioritise her mental health and well-being. Kerr, who has played 41 ODIs and 41 T20Is, said she hadn't taken the decision lightly, but that it was best for her at the current time.
The New Zealand selectors called up the uncapped duo of Jess McFadyen (wicketkeeper) and Claudia Green (seamer) in a 16-member squad that will be captained by Sophie Devine. The tour starts with the first T20I on September 1, and concludes with the fifth ODI on September 26.
"I love representing New Zealand and playing for the White Ferns," Kerr said in an NZC release. "However, after plenty of consultation with my support network, putting my mental health and well-being first is my number one priority. I've not taken this decision lightly - I feel this is best for me at the current time."
Devine and coach Bob Carter both lent their support to Kerr's decision.
"We're obviously going to miss Melie in England," Devine said. "As a cricketer she offers plenty in all three aspects of the game and is great fun to have around off the park. Every individual knows how tough the environment is at the moment with Covid-19; time away from family, living in a bio-bubble or quarantine periods.
"We're really fortunate we have great support around us from both New Zealand Cricket and the CPA. It's important we talk openly about it because it can get tough and we need to ensure our players, teammates and friends are looked after. We're all wrapping around Melie and know she'll make a comeback when she's ready."
Carter said Kerr had shown "a lot of courage" in making her decision.
"Player welfare is paramount, particularly in today's environment," Carter said. "It's important to respect the needs of the athletes. Amelia has shown a lot of courage in making this decision and I look forward to her return to the White Ferns when the time is right."
The new entrants, Green and McFadyen, come on the back of good performances. Green caught the selectors' eyes when she took 5 for 56 for a New Zealand XI against England in a Queenstown warm-up fixture. McFadyen, who received her maiden contract for the 2021-22 season after impressive domestic form for Wellington Blaze, will be the back-up wicketkeeper to Katey Martin.
"This is a really exciting time for both Jess and Claudia," Carter said. "Both have impressed at domestic cricket and thoroughly deserve their chance at the next level.
"Jess has an outstanding work ethic and we want cricketers who are determined and willing to work hard. If she gets her chance over in England I know she'll be ready. Claudia showed what she can do against England last summer for the New Zealand XI against a quality English batting lineup. She swings the ball and can cause trouble at the top of an innings. This tour represents a chance to work on her game and experience new conditions, and I know she'll be pushing hard for a spot in the eleven."
The team will depart for the UK on August 13.
Squad: Sophie Devine (capt), Amy Satterthwaite (vice-capt), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Claudia Green, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Jess Kerr, Katey Martin (wk), Leigh Kasperek, Rosemary Mair, Jess McFadyen (wk), Thamsyn Newton, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu.