Cricket: White Ferns star Amelia Kerr withdraws from England tour to prioritise mental health

The White Ferns will be without one of their brightest stars, when they head north for their upcoming tour of England.

Allrounder Amelia Kerr has chosen to withdraw from selection for next month's one-day international and Twenty20 series, citing the need to prioritise her mental health and well being.

"I love representing New Zealand and playing for the White Ferns," the 20-year-old Kerr says.

"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."

White Ferns captain Sophie Devine completely empathises with Kerr's decision, having taken her own self-imposed break from the game earlier this year.

The 31-year-old left the squad during the Twenty20 international series against Australia in April due to mental fatigue.

"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," says Devine. 

Amelia Kerr at the crease against England.
Amelia Kerr at the crease against England. Photo credit: Photosport

"We’re really fortunate we have great support around us from both New Zealand Cricket and the [Cricket Players' Association]. 

"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 [Kerr] and know she'll make a comeback when she's ready."

Kerr burst on to the international scene as a prodigious 16-year-old leg spin bowler and has since developed into one of the game's premier allrounders.

In 2018, she slammed an unbeaten 232 as an opener against Ireland to claim the record for the highest individual score in one-day internationals.

"We're obviously going to miss [Kerr] in England," Devine adds.

"As a cricketer, she offers plenty in all three aspects of the game and is great fun to have around off the park."

White Ferns coach Bob Carter says Kerr has the squad's unconditional support and applauds her bravery.

"Player welfare is paramount, particularly in today's environment," Carter notes. "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."

Kerr's sister, Jess, has been named in the 16-strong squad, alongside two potential debutants in wicketkeeper Jess McFadyen and seamer Claudia Green.

Green caught the selectors' eyes last summer when she bagged 5/48 for the New Zealand XI against England, while McFadyen receives her maiden Whiter Ferns contract for the 2021-22 season, after impressive domestic form for the Wellington Blaze.

"Both have impressed at domestic cricket and thoroughly deserve their chance at the next level," says Carter.

"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 White Ferns depart for the UK on August 13, ahead of their opening T20 against England on September 2.

White Fern squad for England tour: 

Sophie Devine (capt), Amy Satterthwaite, Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Claudia Green, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Jess Kerr, Katey Martin, Leigh Kasperek , Rosemary Mair , Jess McFadyen, Thamsyn Newton, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu