Timid Proteas women fall short at semifinals once again

Timid Proteas women fall short at semifinals once again
Anya Shrubsole of England celebrates after dismissing Lizelle Lee (left) of South Africa during their World Cup semifinal at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand on 31 March 2022. (Photo: Phil Walter / Getty Images)

South Africa’s women’s team crashed out of the World Cup as they suffered a crushing defeat against England in Christchurch on Thursday.

Reigning world champions England carried the momentum of four straight group-stage wins into their World Cup semifinal against South Africa on Thursday and crushed the pre-match favourites to secure their place in the final. 

Inept fielding, porous bowling and a timid batting response after England posted 293 for seven after being asked to bat, contributed to the disappointing outcome for the Proteas. 

The Proteas went into their semifinal clash on Thursday as favourites, having beaten the 2017 50-over World Cup champions by three wickets in the group stage. That moniker counted for little. 

Chasing 294 for victory in Christchurch and seeking their first appearance in a World Cup final, the pressure of the moment appeared too much for the Proteas as they continuously crumbled at critical moments of the match, which they lost by 137 runs at the Hagley Oval.

South Africa only managed a meagre 156 all out in reply to England’s mammoth total, which was set thanks to a superb 129 from Danni Wyatt. The Proteas are yet to reach the final of a 50-over World Cup, having now appeared in three semifinals.

The leading run scorer in the tournament and No 1-ranked one-day international (ODI) batter in the world, Laura Wolvaardt, fell for a second-ball duck after Anya Shrubsole caught the leading edge of her bat and took a low caught-and-bowled. It set the tone for a meek capitulation as England spinner Sophie Ecclestone grabbed six for 36.

The writing was on the wall for South Africa from Wolvaardt’s dismissal as no batter really got going and the target appeared insurmountable.

Stalwart Mignon du Preez top scored with 30 runs off 48 deliveries while number-three batter Lara Goodall chipped in with 29 runs off 49 deliveries. There were three scores of 21 as captain Suné Luus, all-rounder Marizanne Kapp and wicketkeeper Trisha Chetty got starts but were unable to kick on.

Meanwhile, the No 1-ranked bowler, Ecclestone, grabbed her first career five-wicket haul, along with the best figures of the tournament.

“I’m really pleased, that was a really complete performance from the girls today, something we’ve been searching for,” said England captain Heather Knight.

Catches win matches

Earlier in the day the Proteas won the toss and elected to field. Despite initially restricting the scoring and grabbing two early wickets in cloudy conditions, South Africa were savaged by an excellent Wyatt century, her second in ODIs. The diminutive opening batter raced to 129 off 125 balls, striking 12 fours.

Marizanne Kapp of South Africa looks dejected as she leaves the field after being dismissed by Sophie Ecclestone of England during their World Cup semifinal at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand on 31 March 2022. (Photo: Hannah Peters-ICC / ICC via Getty Images)

Wyatt did, however, have a string of luck as the Proteas dropped the batter five times as she top scored for the reigning champions. She was dropped twice in one over while on 116 and 117 off the bowling of Ayabonga Khaka, before she was eventually held onto by Lizelle Lee at short third-man off the bowling of Masabata Klaas.

“I don’t think we had our best fielding performance… we needed to bring our best performance today and we didn’t,” said skipper Luus after the defeat.

It was only the Proteas’s second defeat of the tournament, having lost to the other finalists, Australia, in the group stage.

“I think we still had a great campaign this World Cup and we’re not taking anything away from that,” said Luus.

England will now play Australia, who thrashed West Indies by 157 runs, in the final on Sunday, 3 April.

“I think we’ll go in as underdogs (against Australia) for sure, but we’re all equal at the start of the game,” said Knight. DM


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