Lauren Down’s Inspiring Return to Cricket in 2024: Aiming for a Top-Order Spot After Maternity Break

Lauren Down, the determined New Zealand cricketer, is set to return to the sport just five months after welcoming her first child.

At 29, Down is focused on securing a top-order spot in the upcoming ODI series in England, marking a significant milestone in her career post-maternity.

Lauren Down’s Inspiring Return to Cricket in 2024: Aiming for a Top-Order Spot After Maternity Break
Lauren Down desires to take over a top-order position. • Getty Images

The Journey Back to Cricket

After giving birth to her daughter Ruby in January, Down had always envisioned a return to cricket. She last played for New Zealand during the T20 World Cup in South Africa nearly a year ago. Now, with three ODIs against England starting on June 26 in Durham, Down’s comeback is in full swing.

“I knew I wanted to be a mother and have a family, but I also wanted to give cricket another go,” Down said. “The return has been challenging but rewarding. Training while managing motherhood has its tough moments, but seeing Ruby’s smile makes it all worth it.”

Support from Family and Fellow Players

Down attributes her smooth return to her supportive partner, who has taken on a significant role in caring for Ruby. She also leans on fellow cricketing mums Amy Satterthwaite and Lea Tahuhu for advice and support. Tahuhu is expecting her second child but will rejoin the team for the T20I series starting July 6.

“I’m lucky to have Amy and Lea’s support. Their experiences have been invaluable,” Down noted. “It’s been tough getting back to my previous fitness levels, but the support from my family and teammates has made a huge difference.”

Overcoming Past Challenges

This isn’t Down’s first comeback. She missed the 2022 home ODI World Cup due to a thumb fracture and had to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games squad later that year to prioritize her mental well-being. This time, however, she’s confident and ready to contribute significantly.

“Time away from the game was refreshing and made me eager to return,” she said. “I wanted to ensure I was ready for the England series, and I’m thrilled to be back.”

Also Read: Improving Depth and Performance in New Zealand Cricket: Insights from Sophie Devine

Goals for the Future

In her 28 ODIs, Down has batted in various positions, primarily in the top three. She aims to cement a spot in the top order for both ODIs and T20Is, working on expanding her 360-degree game to enhance her scoring abilities.

“I’ve floated up and down the order but hope to secure a top-order spot in both formats,” Down explained. “Opening up different scoring areas is a key focus for me.”

Team’s Preparations and Expectations

New Zealand’s team has been rigorously preparing for the England tour, with head coach Ben Sawyer highlighting significant improvements in fitness and fielding. Down’s return is seen as a crucial boost for the squad.

“Lauren has shown great determination and earned her place back at the top of the order,” Sawyer said. “I believe she’ll be a formidable force for us in the ODIs.”

New Zealand’s recent series against England saw mixed results, with a 4-1 loss in the T20Is and a single ODI victory. Captain Sophie Devine emphasized the importance of intense training camps to build on their progress. With Down back in the fold, the White Ferns are hopeful for a strong performance in the upcoming series.

Former NZ Cricketer Craig McMillan Appointed Women’s Team Assistant Coach: Boosting Performance for Tour and T20 World Cup

The former batter for New Zealand, Craig McMillan, has been named the women’s team’s assistant coach for the ensuing two years.

Playing 260 international matches for his country between 1997 and 2007, McMillan will collaborate with head coach Ben Sawyer beginning with the visit of England later this month. From 2014 until 2019, he was the men’s batting coach for New Zealand.

Lauren Down’s Inspiring Return to Cricket in 2024: Aiming for a Top-Order Spot After Maternity Break
Craig McMillan had spent five years working with the men's side • Getty Images

Prior to that, from 2014 to 2019, McMillan was New Zealand’s batting coach. During that time, the squad qualified for two successive ODI World Cups. In the 2018 Indian Premier League, he also served as a fielding coach for Kings XI Punjab. McMillan’s most recent duty was working with Canterbury last season as a batting mentor.

“He’s a proven coach with an extensive international playing career,” stated Sawyer. “The players are excited to start working with Craig; they’re looking forward to having him on board for the upcoming tour to England.” Prioritizing “drive the team forward” in light of a hectic calendar that includes the women’s T20 World Cup in only four months, McCullum stated. “I’m rapt with the appointment and to be back involved in coaching international cricket again,” he stated.

“Joining the White Ferns family will be fantastic as we prepare for a demanding nine-month schedule filled with interesting challenges. Over the previous several seasons, I’ve had a close-up look at these gifted players, and I’m eager to work with the management team to move the team forward.”

From June 26 to July 17, New Zealand will play three Twenty20 Internationals and five One-Day Internationals in England. Before the T20 World Cup in October, they will next travel to Australia for a three-match T20I series in September.

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