Good cricket genes are in the family for Nat Dodd, and despite starting out with a supermarket cricket set, she has forged her own successful path in the sport with a mix of dedication and determination. Having made her debut for the White Ferns while still in her teens, she was part of the squad that toured Australia, the West Indies for the World T20 and England in 2010.
Natalie (known as Nat) grew up in Te Kowhai, on the outskirts of Hamilton and took up cricket when she was 10 years old as part of an Eastern Suburbs girls’ team. Her father represented Thames Valley at Northern Districts District Association level and her cousin, Andy Dodd, played for the New Zealand Under-19s, alongside Kane Williamson in the squad that went to the Under-19 world cup in Malaysia.
Coached by former New Zealand representative John Parker for many years, Nat is a full-time primary school teacher and plays for Northern Spirit. She is also playing for the Kaipaki club this season in the men’s grade (she has formerly played for Melville in the senior A men’s competition).
Nat also plays football and touch rugby, and was named Northern Districts’ Northern Spirit Player of the Year in 2013 after scoring three consecutive unbeaten centuries amid a record-breaking four centuries in New Zealand’s National One-Day competition.
Remarkably for an opening bat, Dodd was dismissed only four times in 10 innings all season, with two half-centuries in addition to her four unbeaten hundreds.
Fitness Journal finds out more:
Name: Nat Dodd
Regional/National ranking: Play for Northern Spirit and NZ White Ferns
High school attended: Waikato Diocesan
I have been teaching year 7 and 8 students at Te Kowhai School, but start at Korakonui School this year. I am ready for a new challenge and am looking forward to my new school.
How did you become involved in cricket?
I got involved when I was about nine years of age. We got a cricket set from the supermarket and from then on I used to practise every evening in the back yard with Dad. When it wasn’t in the back yard, it was hallway cricket.
Outline your upcoming 12 months?
I’m aiming to make the 2017 One Day World Cup in England in June.
What is your greatest successes to date?
Having played for the White Ferns in the One Day and T20 format. Been awarded Northern Districts player of the year twice. Scoring 692 runs in a domestic season including three consecutive centuries which were all not out.
What is your greatest challenge?
Juggling cricket and my job. I have to take unpaid leave every time I tour. Plus, fitting in training and practise around my busy work commitments is a challenge.
Who is the team around you?
My coach John Parker, training partner and close friend Emma Parker, the Parker family who feed me after practise, my family and boyfriend Cam who is always there to support me.
What does the sport involves in terms of training/physical effort and time?
it’s a real balance of practising skill versus training physical fitness. There is always something to work on and it is important to have regular batting sessions or you feel out of form. However, there is nothing like playing out in the middle and the more games you can play the better. Time is a biggie. A game takes most of the day so the weekends we have cricket Saturday and Sunday then that is the whole weekend spent playing.
What gives you the most pleasure?
The fact that you learn so much from the sport – about yourself and life. It always challenges you and it is very rewarding when what you have been practising pays off in a game.
What are your long-term goals and what is required to reach them?
To be a part of a World Cup winning team and to be a successful White Fern player. Being consistent with performances and scoring big runs.
Was there a time when you thought of giving up and why?
There have been many times that have been really hard and I’ve been disappointed in my form and have missed out on teams as a result, but I have never thought about giving up. I play because I love the sport. I try to score as many runs as I can because I love batting. The challenges are part of the sport but there are the good times and the successes which keep you playing.
List five things people would be surprised to know?
1. I love animals – I am hoping to get a Kunekune pig soon.
2. Plans are underway to build a house next year.
3. I love fishing and spending time in Whitianga
4. I love animated movies
5. As a kid I was obsessed with dinosaurs… still maybe a little bit.
What are your favourite local spots to train and why?
I love practising at Kaipaki. The opportunity to get out and practise in the nets, in an open wicket and they are getting grass nets which is exciting. It is an awesome little ground.
Where in the world would you want to train/compete?
I love going to the West Indies; beautiful beaches and an amazing place to tour. The culture and the people are awesome and it is hot there which I prefer. Anyone who knows me knows I feel the cold. I absolutely loved our recent tour to South Africa. Such an interesting country and Cape Town was a real highlight.
What other sports are you involved in?
I play a bit of touch rugby every now and then but mostly it is just sports that I play at school with the kids. I enjoy the outdoors and off road trail running.
Who inspires you and why?
AB De Villiers; he is such a fantastic cricket player and athlete. Many of the kids I work with in my class – I love watching them grow and challenge themselves, and they make every day fun!
What advice would you give to others wanting to have a go at the sport?
Cricket offers so many opportunities to travel NZ and the world. It is a great sport because it is challenging and you learn so much about yourself as a person as a result. It is an awesome way to meet new people and make great friends.