Amelia Kerr hadn’t heard of Belinda Clark or the 229 not out the former Australia Women captain struck in 1997. Kerr, who was only born four years later, broke a 21-year-old record on Wednesday when she struck an unbeaten 232 against Ireland. It is the highest ever score in women’s ODIs and also made her the youngest double-centurion – male or female – across formats. But those are only two of several landmarks the legspin-bowling allrounder achieved on a day of astounding all-round returns. After all, when it was her turn to bowl, she picked up 5 for 17.
“I hadn’t heard of Belinda Clark [before],” Kerr said. “It’s pretty surreal. I had no idea [of the record]. I think I heard them say stuff on the speaker but I didn’t hear them because everyone was clapping.”
In her first game as an opener at the international level, Kerr batted the full 50 overs and bettered her previous highest score across formats at any level of 152, against Otago Under-21s. As far as maiden centuries in women’s ODIs go, her 232 not out is the highest now and it will take take some beating.
“It was nice to get the opportunity to open and get some time out in the middle. I had to work hard at the start. But once I got going, I had a good partnership with Leigh [Kasperek], which allowed me to play how I wanted to play and try and hit boundaries because we weren’t losing wickets.”
And how did the 17-year old fancy celebrating her amazing feat? “Bit of recovery and watch some quality TV in Love Island! Recoupling tonight, so it’s going to be a good episode,” Kerr quipped.
A student of Tawa College, Kerr reflected on her roots in Wellington’s northernmost suburb, where she played much of her age-group cricket before debuting for New Zealand in 2016.
“232 is the Tawa home phone line. All my family is in Tawa. It’s a great place, great community, so I’m sure they’d be celebrating.”
For Haidee Tiffen, the head coach, watching Kerr stitch together a record 295-run stand – the highest second-wicket partnership in women’s ODIs – with Kasperek was a journey down memory lane. Nine years ago in Sydney, Tiffen and current captain Suzie Bates had put together 262, then the highest partnership for any wicket for New Zealand women.
“Suzie and I held that record and we’re happy to hand that to two young and incredible batters,” Tiffen said. “Records are there to be broken, and there’s been a fair few in this series and it’s just really exciting from the coach’s point of view – the way the team’s tracking and the way we can hit in the future.
“Amelia is a pretty humble character. She had a wry smile on her. She’s chuffed inside absolutely. She wants to do well and contribute, but how the team celebrates her successes is what it’s about as well.”
The way Kerr closed her innings out was especially thrilling. She smashed two fours and her second six – in an overall tally of 33 boundaries – off her last three balls to go past Clark’s 229 and brought all her team-mates up to their feet.
“I was thinking, ‘Will she get the record?'” Tiffen said of the moment. “She needed a six [four] off the last ball, and trust me, she didn’t know about that, but we did. And for her to get back and hit that six down the ground and get the record is fantastic.”
To put the cherry on top of one of the most dominating performances in cricket history, Kerr picked up her first five-wicket haul.
“I didn’t think I was going to bowl today, I thought Suzie was going to let me rest in the field standing at slip all day,” Kerr said. “[Between innings], the physio asked me to lie down on the table, and I took a two-minute nap. Then I went out to field. I saw it was a good day, so I embraced it and it was good to be out there with the team. Got to have a bowl, it was nice, and the pitch was turning, which obviously helps me.”
So at the end of it all, New Zealand wrapped up a resounding 3-0 whitewash over Ireland, scoring 400-plus in each game and winning all of them by 300 runs or more. With the experiment to promote both the bowling allrounders – Kerr and Kasperek – up the order working, the record returns on Wednesday are likely to strengthen the management’s long-term plans of giving Kerr a run at the top.
“I’ve always known Amelia has huge potential with the bat and I genuinely think we have a top-class allrounder in the team, [there’s] no doubt about it,” Tiffen said. “She’ll be batting in the top order in the future for the White Ferns. The point of difference has been her spin bowling, but the fact that she’s actually gone out and worked really hard on her bowling, and I know she’s hungry for the batting, to perform with the bat, to contribute to the team. [She’s a] hugely talented player, and at 17, she’s got the world ahead of her.
“[The record] is unbelievable but she’s got the skills; the 360 game – she’s capable of scoring big. A hundred – fantastic, but to go on a get 232, I’m not speechless but it’s just absolutely incredible from here.”