Recognised as a world-class left-arm orthodox spinner, Morna Nielsen has been part of the WHITE FERNS since 2010.
In the 2014 ICC World Twenty20, she finished as the equal leading wicket-taker while also having helped the WHITE FERNS to a series sweep over the West Indies earlier that summer. Her rich vein of form has seen her rise the ladder to be ranked as high as number two amid Twenty20 bowlers in the world. She is New Zealand's highest ranked bowler at number three in the ICC's Women's world T20i bowler rankings (June 2015).
In the WHITE FERNS' Group A win against Australia in Nagpur at the ICC World Twenty20 2016, Nielsen's return of 4-0-4-0 was the most economical T20 International performance both in the history of the WHITE FERNS and the women's ICC World Twenty20 (any country).
Nielsen grew up in and still lives in Hamilton, although now plays for the Otago Sparks at the opposite end of New Zealand. She was six or seven when she first took up the sport for her Vardon Primary School team, where she was inspired by her early coach, Greg Barkle.
"He encouraged me to keep playing and was very inclusive of having girls in the team." Warren Lees, who coached the WHITE FERNS, also had an impact. "He just enjoys the game and it flows onto the players, and makes it a fun environment in which to play cricket."
A Melville player at club level, Nielsen made her domestic debut for Northern Spirit in 2007, and made the Emerging Players tour to Australia in 2009. But she had to work her way through an unlucky run of injuries from late 2012, which started when she tripped on the boundary rope "right in front of the Australia team" and tore ligaments in her ankle.
"Then, the same time the following year, I dislocated my left index finger (which is sort of crucial for bowling) when I was training with the New Zealand U-19 boys. Turns out they hit the ball pretty hard."
Fully mended these days, Nielsen plays hockey through winter and also enjoys a fair bit of snow skiing. "When there is spare time in summer, I like to get in a bit of water skiing, too."
Away from sport she works as a structural engineer for BCD Group in Hamilton.