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If New Zealand women's cricket coach Gary Stead is caught up in a brawl there's one player he would love to have by his side: Central Districts Hinds wicketkeeper/batsman Rachel Priest.

"She's a tough cookie," Stead was quoted as saying at the weekend after Priest copped a ball from England batsman Claire Taylor behind the stumps in the White Ferns' 31-run defeat during the Super Six match of the ICC Women's World Cup on Saturday in Sydney.

Priest was unsure if Stead's remark was a compliment but she took it on the chin anyway.

The 23-year-old Napier Old Boys' Marist cricketer wasn't wearing a helmet when Taylor's "lap shot", middling the willow, down leg side, left her nursing a fat lip.



"I don't usually wear a helmet. But when we play England again [in the World Cup play-offs] I may wear a helmet because they like playing dinky shots.

"I mean, I haven't worn a helmet for 10 years and I just got hit yesterday so there's no reason why I should change things now," she told SportToday from Sydney soon after a dentist cleared her at a public hospital yesterday.

Priest was off the field for five minutes and bandages used to stop the bleeding before she resumed her position.

The ball had pushed back a tooth on the left side of her jaw but the dental experts felt it was better left alone.

"I had x-rays last night after the match and there were no broken bones or fractures so that's a positive, I suppose."

Indubitably for the lanky player, who stacks boxes of apples for a living and for fitness at a Hastings orchard when she's not playing cricket, the loss to England was more painful then her injury.

"We've still got another two games left to play so it's not the end of the world," she said after the Ferns' first defeat at the Cup as they prepare to play India tomorrow in a televised match in North Sydney (from midday on Sky) before playing Pakistan.

While mindful New Zealand had lost to India in a warmup game in Sydney before the cup tourney started, Priest felt that pitch was worn out and assisted the Indian spin bowlers.

"We'll take what we can out of our first three games but England are certainly the team to beat. We're most likely to play them again in the final after the Indians beat the Australians yesterday."

Hosts Australia are out of the running for the cup after losing to the White Ferns in a match to the Duckworth-Lewis method.

Priests' parents live in Sydney. The other two Bay players in the Ferns' squad are fellow NOBM bowler Abby Burrows and Christchurch-based 2007-08 player of the year Sara McGlashan.
 
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