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Proteas Women raring to go after 10 months of inaction

Proteas Women raring to go after 10 months of inaction
South Africa beat England by six wickets during the Women's T20 World Cup, 23 February 2020. The Proteas are preparing to face Pakistan, in their first match in almost a year, in a series that will consist of three ODIs and the same number of T20s. (Photo: Twitter/@ICC)

The Proteas had a solid run at the 2020 T20 Women’s World Cup, reaching the semifinals. Then Covid-19 struck and halted that momentum. Now, almost a year on, they have a chance to build up a head of steam once again.

South Africa’s Proteas Women will return to action for the first time since they lost to Australia in the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup.

Hilton Moreeng’s team haven’t played a single game of cricket since their loss to the hosts and eventual winners of the World Cup. That was at the beginning of March 2020.

Now they finally have a chance to return to the pitch as they go against Pakistan in a series that will consist of three One Day Internationals (ODIs) and the same number of T20 internationals.

All games will be played at an empty Kingsmead Cricket Ground in Durban, starting on Wednesday, 20 January.

In their sights is a Pakistan side that is keen to replicate the exploits of two years ago when they drew their ODIs and narrowly lost the Twenty20 series on South African soil.

Moreeng has emphasised the importance of returning to competitive cricket and also treating this inbound series as an opportunity to ease the Proteas back into the intensity of international cricket.

The squad was scheduled to play Australia in March 2020, but the series was scrapped as Covid-19 began gripping the world.

As regulations were eased, Moreeng’s charges looked to be in a position to clock some much-needed mileage on the pitch. They were poised to play England in September but with strict travel restrictions still in place, the tour of England was also curtailed.

“Firstly, for us, it has been a year since the team has had a chance to get ready for competitive cricket, post our camps, and we are happy that everyone in the group is here and we can start discussing our preparations for Pakistan,” said Moreeng.

The coach also took an opportunity to thank the squad’s medical team for its work and dedication towards ensuring the Proteas are set for the tour.

 “The fitness test has gone well with the players and we are impressed with the fitness levels of our squad considering the lengthy break. We want to give a big thanks to the entire medical staff that has worked around the clock to ensure our players are ready and acclimatising well into the bubble (bio-secure environment),” added Moreeng.

“The importance of this series is to ensure that we find our feet very quickly back into the demands of international cricket and our visitors offer us that opportunity.”

The last slice of action his players saw was the T20 Women’s Super League (WSL) held in Cape Town during December 2020. A number of training camps were also staged throughout 2020, to ensure that the players remain fit.

 “We were blessed enough to host a lot of camps leading up to this series — that has helped our preparations to go well now and hopefully we can have a good showcase of cricket,” said Cricket South Africa’s Women’s National Academy coach, Dinesha Devnarain.

As a result of some key players being sidelined by injury, including captain Dané van Niekerk and veteran all-rounder Chloe Tryon, a few young players under the tutelage of Devnarain have been called up for Proteas service.

“We have quite a few of the young academy players here and now it is a great opportunity for them and the players who have done well in the WSL to take that performance to international cricket. I just hope they go out there with a fearless brand of cricket and hopefully can be match-winners for their country,” said Devnarain.  

Nobulumko Baneti, Evodia Yekile, Jenay Winster and Khayakazi Mathe are four uncapped players pining for an opportunity to play.

Although not shy of experience, but having had difficulty breaking into the starting 11 over the years, Nondumiso Shangase is also gearing up for an opportunity to extend her run of three ODI caps and four T20 caps. 

The KwaZulu-Natal spinning all-rounder says preparation at the camp in Durban, which began last week, has gone well thus far.

“Training from day one until today has been really good,” she said. “The break (that came because of the virus) was really long and now we cannot wait to get going again. We spent enough time at home over the last few months, but now we just want to play.” DM

Proteas full squad: Lizelle Lee (North West), Laura Wolvaardt (Western Province), Trisha Chetty (KZN Coastal), Mignon du Preez (Northerns), Shabnim Ismail (KZN Coastal), Sune Luus (Northerns), Ayabonga Khaka (Gauteng), Maria Klaas (North West), Nadine de Klerk (Western Province), Tumi Sekhukhune (North West), Sinalo Jafta (Western Province), Lara Goodall (Western Province), Andrie Steyn (Western Province), Robyn Searle (Gauteng), Nonkululeko Mlaba (KZN Coastal), Faye Tunnicliffe (Western Province), Tazmin Brits (North West), Anneke Bosch (North West), Nondumiso Shangase (KZN Coastal), Nobulumko Baneti (Border), Khayakazi Mathe (Border), Evodia Yekile (North West), Marizanne Kapp (Eastern Province), Jenay Winster (SWD), Kirstie Thompson (Gauteng). 

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