It's a wet, grey, miserable day in Surrey. It's so dark, a white ball would be a struggle to see, never mind the ball of soap it'd be.

Yet, supporters are still hanging around. They won't see any action between the home team, the Surrey Stars, or the Southern Vipers, who are third in the Twenty20 competition.

They want autographs and selfies from their heroes. Who wouldn't? What these women can do on a cricket field is what draws in these fans. Yes, women.

Suzie Bates is one of those women. The White Ferns legend is escaping another New Zealand winter to spend time in the UK playing for the Vipers.


The former captain garners attention. She deserves to; she's earned it. After all, she averages 42 with the bat and 33 with the ball in ODIs, and 30 and 25 respectively in T20s.

She's worn the silver fern 233 times, in cricket at least; Bates also represented New Zealand in basketball.

But despite all this attention and success, this great of the game hasn't played one test for New Zealand.

It's not something she goes out of her way to bring up, but something she speaks about with immense passion.

There are 125 women who have played test cricket for New Zealand. Rebecca Rolls was the most recent after debuting in New Zealand's last test — a draw against England at Scarborough in 2004.

Australia and England are the only countries which regularly play test cricket, and that's only one test as part of the Ashes.

India and South Africa faced each other in a test five years ago but haven't played in that format since.

Fifteen years have passed since Pakistan and the West Indies last brought out the red ball, while Sri Lanka have played just one test. Bangladesh have never played a women's test.


And those droughts appear set to continue. The International Cricket Council has no plans to oversee a resurgence in women's test cricket.

New Zealand Cricket takes the same stance.

"To compete in tests would require a meaningful first-class competition at domestic level, both of which would place a heavy financial burden on the women's game," said NZC in a statement.

"NZC's position is that to reinvest in test and three-day domestic cricket would mean diverting substantial funding away from current strategies and investment in the women's game, and undo much of the progress being achieved."

Suzie Bates during Women's One Day International in 2018. Photo / Photosport
Suzie Bates during Women's One Day International in 2018. Photo / Photosport

It seems now would be an ideal time to get women back playing test cricket, though. NZC's new Women's Master Agreement sees a total player payment pool of $4.136 million across the three-year term, with 17 (up from 15) centrally contracted White Ferns earning a minimum of $44,000 to $64,000 annually.

This includes a retainer payment, a retirement fund contribution and a promotional payment.

Add to that the popularity of the women's Ashes in England, where thousands turned up to see the world's two best teams square off, emphasising the popularity of women's cricket has never been higher.

It's something that doesn't sit comfortably with Bates.

"I know it's not where the game is heading. And Twenty20 is where the revenue is, but I still believe there's a place for the odd match," said Bates.

"It's where you learn most about the game, playing longer formats. The more professional cricketers we get around the world, the better product we'll have."

There's a determination in Bates' tone. It doesn't come from anger or frustration, just the desire to don the whites.

"I still believe there's a place for bringing it back more into the women's game because the level of cricket is only going to improve once we professionalise the game."

Bates knows a lot of the Australian girls well, having played with and against them for so long. And at the moment, there are none better than Ellyse Perry.

The all-rounder dominated the women's Ashes in all three formats, while in the test, she scored 116 in the first innings and an unbeaten 76 in the second.

"You do get a bit envious, being able to play that format. She dominates test cricket, so it's nice at least some players are getting those opportunities and putting women's cricket on the map for us," said Bates.

It's not just those who don't play test cricket who are demanding more of it.

Perry has previously said the format of the Ashes (three ODIs, three T20s and one test) "places precedence on a team performing well in every format and is most representative of the bulk of cricket that women play at an international level. Playing a similar series against other nations would give teams the opportunity to play more tests, while still competing against each other in the shorter, more common formats of the game."

It seems unlikely that will happen any time soon, though. So for Bates, it's back to the cold, wet and dark of Surrey. Back to dominating in the coloured clothing. Back to dreaming of wearing the whites.