In a new role created to help future generations of White Ferns, double international Liz Green wants to ensure cricket continues the upswing of momentum for women’s sport in NZ, she tells Merryn Anderson.
Liz Green’s new role at New Zealand Cricket fits her like a glove
She’s played for both the White Ferns and the Black Sticks, has five years’ experience running a sporting organisation, played cricket at the domestic level for 18 years, and she’s married to a current White Fern.
It’s all experience that sets her up perfectly for her new job as head of women’s high performance at NZ Cricket – a newly-established role to help develop future White Ferns and keep the team competitive.
“Part of the attraction to the role is building that long-term sustainable success, and putting pathways and programs in place to make sure that at the top end, with regards to the White Ferns, we’re successful on the world stage,” Green says.
“That cuts across everything from the strategic development of development programs and getting coaches into the system, to the support of players – but with the end goal of making sure we’re a competitive team.”
Green played 48 matches for the White Ferns between 2010 and 2017, and then became the general manager of Cricket Wellington. She also has three caps for the Black Sticks, making her international hockey debut in 2009 at the same time as current White Ferns captain Sophie Devine.
In 2019, Green (née Perry) married Maddy Green, who made her international debut in 2012 and now has over 120 White Ferns caps.
Liz (left) and Maddy Green at their wedding in 2019.
The creation of Green’s new role comes months after NZ Cricket and their players’ association announced a new pay agreement – where women would receive the same match fees as men.
“It indicates New Zealand Cricket’s continued investment into the women’s game,” Green explains.
“Certainly for the White Ferns, it means they can be full-time professional athletes…the equality of match payments really does elevate the ability for these players to be full-time professional athletes.
“The big development further down the line is the investment into the domestic women’s programs in terms of match payments there and the continuation of contracts as well so players are now getting remunerated for their time and involvement at that amateur domestic level as well.”
The White Ferns are coming off winning a bronze medal at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in the T20 format, and they have the T20 World Cup in South Africa in February, as well as the very first U19 edition a month earlier.
A New Zealand development squad have just arrived in India for matches against Indian and West Indies teams. It’s New Zealand’s very first women’s development tour.
“That signals New Zealand Cricket’s intent to invest in programs and teams and players just below that White Ferns level,” says Green.
Two contracted White Ferns players will be going on the tour – young wicketkeeper Izzy Gaze and currently uncapped off-spinner Nensi Patel.
“The opportunity to go to India and play some cricket will be critical for the development of these players to play on different wickets and in different environments and different pressure cookers as well,” Green explains.
The White Ferns only have one series at home this summer – three T20s and three ODIs against Bangladesh next month – so the domestic summer is key to preparing players for the World Cup.
Seven Kiwi cricketers have played in the WBBL (the Australian domestic competition) this year, which leaves plenty of room for other players to make their mark back home. The Hallyburton Johnstone Shield competition started on Saturday, with one month until the start of the Super Smash.
Green says the development of these players is something she’s passionate about tackling in her role.
“The investment is great first and foremost, but the investment’s going to fall to the wayside if we don’t have the systems and structures in place,” she says.
“The domestic summer is shaping up as a key part for players to really embrace what the master agreement offers them, but also what cricket can do as a network.”
Green played three seasons for Central Districts, before spending 15 seasons at the Wellington Blaze, winning six Super Smash titles and captaining the team for four seasons.
“We want players to be putting their hands up and really putting their name forward to be selected for higher honours. Now that we’ve got opportunities throughout the pathway for them to do that, I think they should be really excited for what’s in place and what opportunities are in front of them.”
With more women’s cricketers able to pursue cricket full-time, Green also feels a responsibility to look after their professional athletes.
“That’s why I put my hand up for this role, to make sure the investment goes to the right places and a development pathway is put in place,” she says.
“But the big thing for me is the care and support for the players and coaches as well in that transition from an amateur era into a professional era for the White Ferns. And navigating that semi-professional was at the domestic level.
“For me, the investment’s a starting point but it really is making sure everything sitting in behind that investment is in place and we’re really working towards being a world-class team.”
Green believes having programs specifically for women in cricket is very important, but the Black Caps’ recent success is also inspiring for the women’s game.
“That team and that programme’s had continued success on that world stage and there are a lot of lessons to be learned from what they’ve done,” she says.
“But we do need to do things slightly differently in the female space. We don’t quite have that investment at the domestic level in terms of domestic contracts for the female players like they do for the men’s.
“I think having a slightly different lens being put in front of the women’s game, and rightfully so, is the correct way forward.”
Liz Green (left) receiving her Black Ferns cap from former NZ Cricket president Debbie Hockley.
Green and NZ Cricket have been inspired by recent sporting successes, including the Black Ferns and Kiwi Ferns both making their World Cup finals.
“It’s unavoidable now to consume women’s sport in general and I think people want to consume it, too. It’s really putting pressure back on national and regional organizations to front up and I think we need to keep the momentum going,” Green says.
“Having a sold out Eden Park [for the Rugby World Cup] was testament to the fact we can’t just have women’s sport secondary to the men’s game anymore. It’s hitting us square in the face.
“We’ve got responsibility as administrators and leaders in the game to make sure we continue that momentum so women’s sport in this country continues with that positive momentum as well.”
Green has been well supported by NZ Cricket CEO David White and the board, and describes the next few years as “a line in the sand moment for New Zealand Cricket”.
“They’ve come to the party in terms of making sure there’s a voice for women’s cricket around the table,” she says. “New Zealand Cricket are really taking it seriously.
“That’s why I’m really excited about my role but also for women and girls participating in sport in general. It’s going to be an exciting time coming up.
“It’s the responsibility of those in the system to make sure that we honor women in sport.”