Commonwealth Games 2022
'We want all the jewellery': Aussies claim favourites tag
No shying away or vying for the underdog tag from Megan Schutt as the Australia squad prepare for their blockbuster Comm Games semi-final against New Zealand
Laura Jolly in Birmingham
6 August 2022, 03:02 PM AEST
Megan Schutt says Australia are more than happy to shoulder the pressure of expectations ahead of their Commonwealth Games semi-final clash against trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand.
White Ferns skipper Sophie Devine was quick to point out that all the pressure was on the tournament favourites following New Zealand’s heavy defeat to England in their final group-stage match.
"I think they've certainly come into this competition as favourites and hopeful of taking that gold medal whereas us, a lot of people probably didn't think we'd make the semi-finals," Devine said.
"So I think we can really take that on board and then just play with a bit of freedom and take it to the Aussies."
But Schutt was unconcerned, saying she was happy to let the White Ferns claim the underdogs tag.
"We come in as favourites," she agreed.
"But we're coming in expecting to win every single game that we play and we have been the favourites for a lot of tournaments now.
"So we're kind of used to it. It's a tag that we're humbled by and we are the favourites, but we kind of thrive on that."
Schutt said Australia were not reading much into New Zealand’s batting display against England, where a top-order collapse saw them limp to 9-71 from their 20 overs, their third-lowest T20I total.
A fierce opening spell from England veteran Katherine Brunt did the damage, as she bowled Devine with the fourth ball of the innings then rattled Amelia Kerr’s stumps in her next over.
"That was un-New Zealand-like," Schutt said.
"We're under no illusions that that's going to happen again, they never turn up twice like that in a row.
"And it's T20 cricket where any team could win, so we're certainly not taken it lightly."
The Australian and New Zealand squads know one another particularly well, through both regular series played in recent years and the White Ferns’ strong presence in the WBBL each summer.
There will be a strong Adelaide Strikers flavour when Schutt and Big Bash teammate Darcie Brown take the new ball against former Adelaide imports Sophie Devine – who now plays for the Perth Scorchers – and Suzie Bates, who is currently uncontracted for the upcoming season.
"I actually really love it," Schutt said of playing Bates and Devine. "It's such a challenge ... it's a battle of attrition.
"They both know what I'm going to do and I know what they're going to do.
"You never know with Soph if you're going to go for six, or if you're to going bowl her."
"It's actually a really tough one for me, because I want them to do well … I think that there is a real friendly rivalry in that sense.
"I'd love to see them succeed, as long as we're winning that game at the end of it."
Australia have had no shortage of success in recent years, winning the last two T20 World Cups in 2018 and 2020 and the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year.
In major events since 2010, the only tournaments where Australia have not walked away with the trophy were the 2016 T20 World Cup, where they finished runners-up to West Indies, and the 2017 50-over event where they were knocked out in the semi-final.
But the surplus of silverware does not mean there is any danger of hunger in the Australian camp with a gold medal on offer this weekend.
"We want to hold all the jewellery. We want to win every single game that we play, we want to win every major championship.
"So for us, it's about getting better and evolving as a team and each new tournament brings a new challenge."
2022 Commonwealth Games
Australia's squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Amanda-Jade Wellington
Group A: Australia, India, Pakistan, Barbados
Group B: England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka
August 3: Australia beat Pakistan by 44 runs
Semi-finals: August 6
Bronze medal match: August 7, 10am local (7pm AEST)
Gold medal match: August 7, 5pm local (2am Aug 8 AEST)
All matches played at Edgbaston Stadium. Watch live or on demand via 7Plus