Maia Bouchier speaks to Katya Witney about her breakthrough series in New Zealand and carving out a path to opening the batting.

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Going into England’s final assignment of the winter in New Zealand, the makeup of their opening partnership dominated the pre-series speculation. With Danni Wyatt out for the beginning of the series along with other core players who were part of the WPL, the first three matches were billed as a straight shootout for the second opener spot between Tammy Beaumont and Sophia Dunkley, who started the series as openers. As Beaumont came into the side for her 100th T20I off the back of a transformational run of T20 form after over two years on the sidelines, Maia Bouchier flew under the radar.

Yet, four matches later, Bouchier had leapfrogged both Beaumont and Dunkley as the incumbent second opener, scoring over 200 runs in the series. A 71 in the third game was her first T20I half-century. Before the series, her highest score in the format was 34, and she averaged 17.08 and a strike rate of 119. The scale of her improvement over the last year culminated in innings she played in the fourth match of the series, which sealed her spot at the top of the order.

She scored 91 off 56 balls in Wellington, sealing the series win for England after a disastrous collapse in the game before. The timing which she says is key to the way she goes about scoring her runs, could not be more relevant to when she made them.

“We go out with the intent to play and be aggressive, but smart at the same time,” Bouchier tells “For me, one thing is not to be too aggressive because, with my technique and how I go out and play my shots, playing with timing is really important. I tell myself not to force it, to watch the ball and react to it. I do whatever I can to focus on that.”

A measured approach was evident at the start of Bouchier’s Wellington masterclass. She was 20 off 18 balls by the end of the powerplay, in which England had lost Wyatt. But, 15 balls later she reached her fifty, continuing to go through the gears and ending her innings with a strike rate of 162.5.

Being promoted to the top of the order, having exclusively batted at No.5 or lower in T20Is before August last year, was a welcome change for Bouchier. Since she was given an extended run in the lower middle-order over the summer of 2022 with limited success, she’s struggled to find a place in a side that boasts a variety of top-order options.

“I was biding my time for an opportunity at the top of the order,” says Bouchier. “[Batting lower down] was something I had to adapt to really quickly, and I hadn’t really played that role for the Vipers. Being patient with that is something I’ve learnt to do better, but being frustrated at playing those roles has made me tougher now because I’ve had to wait, be patient and take those opportunities when they come.

“Down the order, you don’t have a lot of time. But when you do get that little bit more time that’s when you can show your worth. I did that, and now look where I am, it feels amazing.”

While Bouchier went into the New Zealand series as England’s fourth-choice opener, there were signs that success for England at the top wasn’t too far away. In the final ODI against Sri Lanka in September last year, she blasted 95 off 65 balls opening the batting, sharing a 193-run stand with Nat Sciver-Brunt.

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That opportunity, as well opening in the T20I series against Sri Lanka, came off the back of an extended run of success in the domestic arena. Over the last two editions of the Charlotte Edwards Cup, Bouchier has been consistently in the top group of run scorers, scoring well over 150 runs in both editions batting in the top three for Southern Vipers. Batting at three for the victorious Southern Brave in the Hundred last summer, she finished as the fourth-highest run scorer in the competition, with 268 runs at an average of 38.28. She’s quick to point out the influence of the coaches down at Southampton in her transition up the order and creating a space to simplify her approach.

“Over this winter I’ve had a bit more time to think about my game and talk about it with my coaches,” says Bouchier. “I’ve made a little group of two coaches that I speak to a lot, one main coach that I have at Vipers and then one here while I’m away. But the main thing for me has been really being specific on a focus for my training – especially the mental side of things. I haven’t changed my technique at all. I’ve just talked about what my options are, what my strengths are, playing to my strengths and not forgetting about them.”

There’s an obvious parallel with the journey Vipers and England teammate Dunkley went on to become England’s second opener. Having found opportunities lower down the order, Dunkley then made a transition into the top three for both Vipers and Southern Brave (now Welsh Fire) before being given the nod for England. Now, Bouchier is the one edging her out.

“It’s very competitive,” says Bouchier. “There’s a lot of criticism but also, these are the times when we have to take the opportunities. For Dunks, she’s probably not been in the best form she’s been in but that’s cricket, it ebbs and flows. With Tammy and Dunks, it’s always a question. I don’t really like to get involved in the other stuff, I just hope I get that opportunity. That’s a communication thing that happens with us individually and in coaching staff discussions and I just hope I get the good end of the stick.”

Part of Bouchier’s change in role has been almost entirely giving up bowling. In 2020 Bouchier was suspended from bowling after an ECB assessment found her elbow extension in her action exceeded the 15-degree maximum threshold. While she has subsequently been cleared to bowl again, batting is now taking the entirety of her focus.

“As gutting as it felt losing the bowling, putting my time into batting is becoming a thing for me,” she says. “I’ve done a lot of work on focussing on my batting and actually taking the time and effort to really think about what I want to do better and how I want to improve my game.

“I’ve come into this year being a top order batter, but also a specialist fielder. I think that gives me a bit of an edge as well. Being able to focus on my batting over the last year and a half has been incredible to see the rewards I’ve had just from really doubling down on what I wanted to do”

The significance of the timing with which Bouchier has put in a breakthrough series is not lost on her. England are currently only scheduled to play eight more T20Is before travelling to the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh. A couple of solid performances during the English summer would see her inked into the XI for the start of that campaign.

“It’s not too long,” says Bouchier. “But we’ve got a couple of games against Pakistan and New Zealand and I think they’re trying to fit in Ireland as well. But we’ve built that foundation, and once we build on that over the next couple of months before the Hundred, that will be our step forward towards hopefully winning that World Cup – I really want to get my hands on that World Cup.”