With pride and ICC Women's Championship points at stake, both captains, Meg Lanning and Amy Satterthwaite, are motivated to do well in the Rose Bowl one-day international series, which starts on Friday, 22 February, in Perth.
"Playing against New Zealand is always good fun and a good challenge," said Lanning on Thursday. "I’ve enjoyed coming up against the Kiwis in the past and this series is no different, we’re looking forward to a good challenge there," she added.
The Rose Bowl rivalry goes back to the year 1985, when Australia defeated New Zealand 2-1 at home. Since then, the teams have battled each other in 28 such series. Australia have a superior record with 23 wins, only three losses and two draws. But they're not going to be complacent.
"We're certainly not taking New Zealand lightly. We are going to have to play well and play some consistent cricket in the three games to win ... It's a massive series for us. It is very important for us to start off well tomorrow and move on from there," the Australian captain said.
New Zealand last won a Rose Bowl series way back in February 1999. Australia have held all aces since then. But the unenviable record serves as a motivation for the New Zealand team to try harder. Satterthwaite calls it the "extra special factor".
"The team seem to get up just that little bit more for it. We have a lot of pride in playing this series and I know we have the record that shows we haven’t won it for a while but it gives it that extra special factor – if we could be the team that could get up and win it, it would be pretty exciting," she added.
"We’re looking forward to the challenge, we know what they bring. We can’t wait to get out there."
"We acknowledge that our performances haven't been where we would've liked them to be. We're all going to play our part in improving it."— ICC (@ICC) February 18, 2019
Amy Satterthwaite promises an aggressive approach from @WHITE_FERNS against Australia.
➡️ https://t.co/zhLAxjrW5k pic.twitter.com/aGTlsLV8lf
Some of New Zealand's current players were not even born when their country last won a Rose Bowl series. "It is pretty crazy. It makes me feel old," Satterthwaite said in response to that.
"There's something about this series that the girls seem to get up for. We've had some quality battles with Australia over the years. It's always been pretty close contests, even though we haven't been able to get over the line."
The first ODI will be played tomorrow in Perth, followed by two games in Adelaide and Melbourne on 24 February and 3 March.