White Ferns captain Sophie Devine has suggested her side's lack of build-up games could have been at fault for their group-stage exit at the Twenty20 World Cup.
The White Ferns bowed out of the Cup following a four-run defeat to Australia on Monday, completing a tournament which saw them produce wins over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, but defeats to India and Australia, who both progressed to the semifinals at New Zealand's expense.
Those four matches were played over 10 days – a comparatively chaotic schedule for a team who, before the Cup began, had played just four Twenty20 internationals in the previous 377 days.
Four Twenty20s against South Africa, as well as two unclassified warm-up games against England and Thailand, was the entirety of the White Ferns' preparation over the past 12 months, and when pressed on why her side had failed to make it to the knockout rounds for a third straight international tournament, Devine posited whether those lack of games played a factor.
"Whether it's a mindset or mental thing or whether it's game awareness, just [the lack of] experience playing in those pressure situations - we haven't played too much international cricket together the last 12 months," Devine pondered.
"It's certainly something when we get back we'll certainly go through everything and nitpick at it because it's a crappy feeling to miss out again. We certainly want to keep pushing and showing that we deserve to be there."
Devine believes there's no issues with the skills on show in her side, arguing that despite the White Ferns' top three of herself, Rachel Priest and Suzie Bates all failing to hit their best form at the Cup, they still showed promise in coming close to toppling India and Australia.
"Certainly skill-wise we're there. I think everyone knows that we're a really talented side and we're growing that depth.
"We're actually really close. We're close to sides that have a lot more money, have a lot more resources and a lot more player depth than we do. And to think we've taken both of them to within five, six runs, it shows that we're not far. "
With so few matches played in the build-up to the World Cup, it left the White Ferns with a coach in Bob Carter who had only overseen one Twenty20 series, and a captain in Devine who was appointed in January. Devine acknowledged it may not have been a perfectly settled way to prepare into a pinnacle tournament, but believes the long-term prospects are good.
"We're certainly still trying to figure each other out, me and Bob. But I think there's really positive signs there.
"We're going to have to do things slightly different in New Zealand because we don't have the same amount of people. We don't have the same amount of resources. But we certainly do have things in our favour. And that's what we've got to keep working at."
And, while the White Ferns' schedule might have been lacking over the past year, there is a significant focus on securing more matches for the team, especially in the build-up for ODI World Cup held in New Zealand next February.
A tour of Sri Lanka is scheduled for the middle of next month, while games against Australia are likely to start off the summer.
Devine knows more matches are essential if the White Ferns are to break their duck and make a deep run at the World Cup.
"I think there are a few international sides looking to come over to New Zealand, which is great. And I think that's the way the women's game is going - there's more cricket being played now. That's certainly what we want to be involved with – and we want to be playing the top sides."