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Nadine de Klerk steps out from the fringes to stake her claim with Proteas women in Ireland

Nadine de Klerk steps out from the fringes to stake her claim with Proteas women in Ireland
Nadine de Klerk celebrates dismissing Rachel Haynes of Australia during their Women's T20 World Cup semifinal at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 5 March 2020. (Photo: Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)

While the Proteas women take on Ireland in three T20 matches and three One-Day Internationals, De Klerk talks to us about her unyielding passion for the game and her desire to be part of the squad.

The Proteas are without injury-hit premier all-rounder Marizanne Kapp, but they do have Nadine de Klerk, who is no stranger to the role and is eager to forge a place as the squad’s go-to player in pressure situations.

Kapp is absent through respiratory illness, although she is expected to join the team on their England tour from the end of June.

De Klerk has deputised for the fast-bowling, hard-hitting all-rounder since her debut for the Proteas women in 2017, but has mostly been on the periphery, playing only 25 T20I matches and 16 One-Day Internationals (ODIs).

“I have been a travelling reserve in the previous few tours, so I just want to be a part of the squad and, whenever I get the opportunity, to do the best I possibly can,” she said.

De Klerk was left on the fringes again at this year’s 50-over World Cup, in New Zealand, when she was selected as a non-playing reserve.

“It’s always hard facing those types of disappointments, but at the end of the day I have a massive passion for cricket, and I always want to work hard and become the best player I possibly can,” said the 22-year-old about missing out on playing in the World Cup.

The Proteas’ Nadine de Klerk appeals during a T20 Cricket World Cup semifinal against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 5 March 2020. (Photo: Isuru Sameera Peiris / Gallo Images)

“It was a setback, but you always just want to get back up and work harder. I am on my journey towards that and just really want to become the best cricketer I possibly can and manoeuvre my way back into the playing 11 and into the squad,” she added.

Supporting from the outside

Despite not playing, De Klerk played a vital role in World Cup practice sessions, preparing her teammates for match days.

“It was a bit different. I have never experienced something like that before, but the girls played really great cricket and it was exciting just to be there as well. To watch them play was something really special, the way they took on some of the best in the world.

Nadine de Klerk bowls during the third ODI between South Africa and West Indies at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on 3 February 2022. (Photo: Christiaan Kotze / Gallo Images)

“You obviously have your mental challenges; I was just trying to tell myself to stay up and about and always bring energy to the team and try to motivate and cheer them on wherever I could.

“It was lovely to be there and support the girls.”

Next best

Now De Klerk is aiming to stake her claim alongside Kapp as the team’s go-to player in pressure situations – with bat or ball – particularly in the run-up to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the Women’s T20 Cricket World Cup in South Africa early in 2023.

“I would love to score more runs, especially at the backend where someone is needed to maybe finish off games – I would love to be that player. I also want to try to bowl well and take a few wickets and bowl as economically as I can. We will have to see how well that works out,” she added.

“I just want to contribute to the team as much as possible.”

Nadine de Klerk trains with the Proteas at the Groenkloof Oval in Pretoria on 9 May 2022. (Photo: Lee Warren / Gallo Images)

The Proteas women got off to a rocky start against Ireland, losing the first T20 by 10 runs on Friday, but bounced back quickly on Monday with an eight-wicket victory.

With the ball, De Klerk registered economical figures of one wicket for 17 runs in her four overs, but was unable to seal the first encounter for her side with the bat, despite registering an unbeaten 12 runs off 11 deliveries.

“I am happy with my personal performance, but it doesn’t really help when you are on the losing side. I am just glad to be here and happy to be back in the T20I side. I haven’t played a T20 in quite a few months, so just to be back in the playing 11 and really contributing to the team [is great],” she said.

Nadine de Klerk at a Proteas practice match at Pretoria’s Groenkloof Oval on 18 May 2022. (Photo: Lee Warren / Gallo Images)

De Klerk has been employed as the first-change bowler in both matches thus far, with Nonkululeko Mlaba’s left-arm off-spin bowling sharing the new ball with the experienced Shabnim Ismail.

De Klerk had another effective game in the second encounter, claiming two scalps for 26 runs in her four overs, going at just more than run a ball to help the team level the three-match series.

The Proteas take on the Irish in the T20 series-defining match on Wednesday, with De Klerk ready to contribute in any facet required. DM

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