Cricket: White Ferns lean on insider information for Twenty20 World Cup opener against Australia

The White Ferns may benefit from some insider knowledge, when they take on arch-rivals Australia in their Twenty20 World Cup opener in South Africa on Sunday morning (NZ time).

New White Ferns coach Ben Sawyer is not only an Australian, but spent three years as an assistant with the defending champions, who he helped guide to glory in the last two editions of the tournament.

While she wouldn't go into any detail, star allrounder Amelia Kerr revealed Sawyer had supplied some valuable insight on their trans-Tasman neighbours.

"We've got a very Aussie support staff and they've been awesome," said Kerr.

“[Sawyer] being involved in the Aussie setup for a long time means he knows a lot about their players."

The Australians head into the match at Paarl as firm favourites, having won five of the seven T20 World Cups since the competition's inception in 2009. They also claimed the gold medal in the sport's debut at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year, beating New Zealand in the semi-finals.

Morne Morkel has joined the White Ferns as an assistant coach.
Morne Morkel has joined the White Ferns as an assistant coach. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Kiwi women were also knocked out of the last two T20 World Cups by the Aussies, and despite winning only two of their last seven T20s, Sawyer has assured his players that his compatriots hold them in the highest regard.

"He thinks we don't see that as a group," said veteran batter Suzie Bates.

"He thinks that when we put our team on paper, we match-up really well, and it's more about how they fear us as a team, which gives you a lot of confidence.

"He obviously doesn't get too personal, but I'm sure if I got him over a few beers, he'd give some dirt."

The White Ferns are also benefiting from some valuable expertise on local conditions from recently appointed bowling coach Morne Morkel.

The former South Africa fast bowler  - who played 86 tests for the Proteas between 2006 and 2018 - has been a huge help both on and off the pitch, said Kerr.

"It's awesome to have Morne here. He seems like a lovely guy and I think the pace bowlers are very excited already. He's definitely had a massive impact already, just chatting away, and he has a lot of experience in pressure situations, so having him around our group is awesome.

"He's got a lot of presence and I think all of us – pace bowlers and not pace bowlers – are going to want to learn us much as we can off him."

The top two sides from each five-team pool advance to the semi-final, meaning the White Ferns likely need to emerge from their opener against Australia and the following game against South Africa on Tuesday to put themselves in line for the final four.

Either way, Bates is relieved the time for talking is over and is bullish about her side's chances against the Aussies.

"They're a quality side but with that comes pressure and expectation," Bates said.

"We know we've competed well with them recently. I thought at the Commonwealth Games, for the most part, we had them on the back foot," she said.

"We know when we put our best foot forward, we can beat them on any day."

Join us at 6am, Sunday for live updates of the White Ferns' T20 World Cup clash against Australia