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There’s room for improvement despite dominant series win, says Proteas women coach

There’s room for improvement despite dominant series win, says Proteas women coach
South Africa celebrates a wicket during the 2nd Women's T20 International match between Momentum Proteas and Pakistan Women at Hollywoodbets Kingsmead Stadium on 31 January 2021 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo: Darren Stewart / Gallo Images)

Hilton Moreeng will be hopeful that Cricket South Africa can wangle another batch of competitive fixtures, for the sake of momentum, as they continue full steam ahead towards the 2022 ODI Women’s World Cup that is scheduled to begin on 4 March and end on 3 April in New Zealand.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

The Proteas women recently thumped the West Indies to seal a first-ever series win in the Caribbean. The win adds to their ever-rising global stock.  

The coach of the Proteas women’s team, Hilton Moreeng, says despite his side coasting to a crushing 4-1 One Day International (ODI) series victory over the West Indies in the Caribbean, his side still have a few more boxes to tick before they can be considered in the same league as the sides ranked first and second globally –  Australia and England.

“There’s a lot we can work on and we’d like to have as many camps as we can, building towards the West Indies tour and the World Cup,” Moreeng told journalists in a virtual press conference following his side’s domineering victory over the hosts.

“One of the boxes that are still unticked is consistency. I think we can tighten up on our batting and make sure we continue our form because the bowlers are executing at 80%,” he said.

As it stands, the next scheduled contest for the South Africans, as Moreeng hints, is a reverse of the West Indies tour set to take place in January 2022.

Moreeng will be hopeful that Cricket South Africa can wangle another batch of competitive fixtures for the side after that, for the sake of momentum, as they continue full steam ahead towards the 2022 ODI Women’s World Cup that is scheduled to begin on 4 March and end on 3 April in New Zealand.

One of the positives that Moreeng and his charges will come away with from their Caribbean success is the depth of the team.

Having already sealed the series by taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match ODI series, the Proteas technical team was able to hand minutes on the pitch to fringe players such as Sinalo Jafta, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tazmin Brits and Nadine de Klerk.

“We still have a couple of months, the squad is very competitive and we have enough players pushing for a place, which is healthy,” said Moreeng. “Our senior players are putting up their hands and the performances all around have been good. We just need to make sure we can build on that now.”

The series win is the third consecutive triumph in the 50-over format for Moreeng’s team in 2021. In January they smacked Pakistan 3-0 on home soil.

Two months later they travelled to India, where they walloped the hosts 4-1 in another demonstration of the progress they’ve made since Moreeng took over in 2012.

One of the chief instigators of the Proteas’ success is opening willow-wielder Lizelle Lee. The 29-year-old is currently at the peak of her powers, with an eye to pushing even further beyond that. She sits second in the latest International Cricket Council rankings for ODI batters.

Marizanne Kapp is first in the world when it comes to all-rounders, joined by Proteas skipper Dane van Niekerk, who is seventh globally despite missing months of action owing to injury.

In the bowling department, Kapp and the devastating Shabnim Ismail are in the top five, with Ayabonga Khaka in eighth place.

Lee managed a healthy return of 248 runs over the four ODIs she clocked up in the Caribbean, which is even more impressive, seeing that South Africa didn’t chase anything beyond 200 throughout the series, thanks to their clinical bowling unit.

The powerful batter told journalists that the secret to her success is that she has managed to stick to basics and has not tried to over-elaborate.    

“I don’t think there’s a secret [to my current success]. I had to find a way of being consistent and make sure I get through the first 15 overs. I think I accomplished that in this tour,” said Lee.

“The big thing for me was sticking to the basics… It doesn’t matter what the team gets or what plans you have, it’s how you adapt in the middle.

“Every game and every wicket plays differently and as a batting squad we have to adapt to what’s in front of us. I think I’ve matured in that sense. I’ve started playing the situation and not always on how I would want to play. Play with what’s in front of you and make sure you have a clear mind in playing certain shot selections,” she added.

Lee, along with the likes of Kapp, Van Niekerk, Laura Wolvaardt and Mignon du Preez, will now shift their focus to the start of the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia. The T20 spectacle is scheduled to commence on 14 October and conclude on 27 November. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.

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