You can't help but take some sort of delight in having to wait to talk to Suzie Bates.

As she tries to walk a mere five metres to chat, the former White Ferns captain is stopped by an elderly woman for a yarn. And then for a selfie with a young girl. And then a photo with another couple of girls. Then along comes someone else who wants to have a chat.

This is all relatively new for New Zealand's greatest female cricketer. Yet in typical Bates fashion, she does it with a smile.

Bates now garners attention. She lights up with delight when a girl tells her she's a left arm pace bowler.


"Left arm? They're handy," she says with a tinge of intrigue.

So, too, is this White Ferns team. A team which, like their former skipper, now attracts crowds of people away from games.

A team which has players who have become household names. A team which now has functions before leaving for World Cups.

On Thursday, the White Ferns were the centre of attention before leaving for the World Twenty20 in the West Indies.

In a large function room at ANZ's headquarters in central Auckland, corporate sponsors talked about how proud they were of this side.

A local iwi beautifully sung their good wishes. And a team of young female cricketers presented the players with pounamu.

It's the sort of event that in the past would have been reserved for their male counterparts. Not any more.

That doesn't make it any stranger for Bates, though.

"We knew there were going to be some things going on but it wasn't until we got up on the stage and received that pounamu that it actually became surreal," says Bates "There was a moment when I thought I was going to cry."

The 12-year veteran has been the leading face and voice of women's cricket in this country. She has laid the foundation with bat and ball for the White Ferns to build even further. Bates has been instrumental in women's cricket making the most of the toil put in by the likes of Lesley Murdoch and Debbie Hockley. Not that Bates would ever take credit.

"As you get older, you have moments when you reflect. I was 21 when I went to my first World Cup, and while I was really excited, it didn't seem like such a big deal at the time. And now we have all this support for women's cricket."

It's timely then that just as the 31-year-old talks about the growth of women's cricket in New Zealand, young leg spinner Amelia Kerr walks past. While Bates is the one who has helped plant the seeds, Kerr and the next generation of young women are the ones who will reap the benefits. Aged 18, Amelia Kerr is, like Bates, becoming a household name.

Their names are as familiar as Williamson and Taylor. Already with the highest individual score in a women's one-day international (234) and a wrong 'un sensational and deceptive enough to outdo any cricketer, Kerr is being touted for a remarkable career in the pink and black.

"It's my job to keep her grounded," Bates jokes. "I need to make sure she doesn't spend too much money on shoes. But that's the most pleasing thing. That in five years, this is hopefully all that female cricketers know in this country; that it's professional. That they have the opportunity to be as good as they want to and can be. Just like the men."

Kerr, all 30 pairs of shoes, knows it, too.

"It's pretty special and just awesome to have this support."

While she hasn't been around nearly as long as Bates, Kerr has also seen the progression.

"I've definitely noticed the difference in the past two years I've been in this set-up, just with the media coverage and public support."

While there's no doubt women's cricket is growing in popularity and could one day see fully-professional players, Kerr is making sure she has something to fall back on.

"I'm missing my final exams because of the tournament. But I still have one more assignment to do, so that will be a nice way to take my mind off cricket."

Then she can focus on cricket.

That is a sentence which when she first started playing for New Zealand, Bates could only have dreamed of reading.