Cricket: Izzy Gaze's breakthrough performance can't salvage victory for White Ferns against England

The White Ferns have bowed to a five-wicket defeat and 4-1 Twenty20 series demise, but may have uncovered an answer to their depth problems in wicketkeeper Izzy Gaze.

Batting first at Wellington's Basin Reserve, the NZ women were never really in the hunt, losing three wickets in the powerplay and accumulating a total that wouldn't really test the tourists - but it could have been a lot worse.

Teetering at 69/5 in the 13th over, they managed to score 136/5, with Gaze finishing unbeaten for a maiden half century to become the first White Ferns batter not named Devine, Bates or Kerr to reach that milestone since 2018. 

With captain Sophie Devine sidelined through injury, too much rested with the experienced duo of opener Suzie Bates and acting skipper Melie Kerr, and neither put up much batting resistance.

Bernadine Bezuidenhout lasted only five balls, before she was caught behind by England wicketkeeper Amy Jones, off Nat Sciver-Brunt. Kerr followed two overs later and Bates was next to fall.

When Georgia Plummer capitulated just three balls later, New Zealand were 31/4 and in deep trouble.

Maddie Green and Brook Halliday put on 38 runs for the fifth wicket, before Green fell to a stunning caught-and-bowled effort by spinner Sophie Ecclestone. 

Wicketkeeper Izzy Gaze had never scored a fifty at any representative level, but showed her ability by ramping over the keeper three times and clearing the boundary once, as she and Halliday rescued the innings.

They brought up an NZ record of 56 runs for the sixth wicket, before Halliday was caught by Alice Capsey, off Ecclestone, for 33 - her highest international T20 score.

Gaze continued her assault, reverse-sweeping the final ball of the innings for her half-century - 51 off 28 balls, including six fours and the six.

Incredibly, she became the first White Ferns batter not named Devine, Bates or Kerr to reach fifty in this format, since 2018. 

New Zealand's total of 136/6 seemed well short of a competitive total against this English line-up, but at least it gave the bowlers something to defend.

That cause started well, with Lea Tahuhu coaxing England batting star Maia Bouchier - the leading scorer through the series - into an early edge to Gaze behind the stumps.

Capsey tried to hit Kerr over the boundary, but held up in the Wellington wind for Green at longon. In her next over, Kerr lured Danni Wyatt down the wicket and Gaze had the stumping, with England 64/3 in the 10th over.

That was as close as they got. England captain Heather Knight and Sciver-Brunt began scoring at better than a run a ball, and quickly took the game away from the home side. Their 57-run partnership didn't get them home, but it laid the foundation for victory. 

Kerr bowled Sciver-Brunt for 31 off 27 balls, while Jess Kerr caught Knight off Rosemay Mair's bowling for 35 off 28, leaving the England middle order to mop up the remaining runs with an over to spare.

While a five-wicket loss and 4-1 series defeat, Gaze had given the White Ferns programme a glimpse of the future.

"We lost a few wickets in the powerplay, but the way Izzy and Brook stood up... Izzy was outstanding," reflected captain-for-the-day Melie Kerr. "The way she just played her game, her lapshot... to do that was pretty special for her.

"She works bloody hard and has for a long time, so it was nice to see her come off today and that got us to the score that allowed us to have some scoreboard pressure." 

Both teams now regroup for a three-match one-day series, beginning Monday at the same venue.


NZ 136/6 (Gaze 51no, Halliday 33; Ecclestone 3/30) England 138/5 (Knight 35, Sciver-Brunt 31, Capsey 25; M Kerr 3/30)

England win by five wickets, win the series 4-1