Sport

CRICKET T20 WORLD CUP

Proteas Women keen to go one better at home World Cup

Proteas Women keen to go one better at home World Cup
Marizanne Kapp of South Africa during the Women's Tri-Series, 1st T20I match between South Africa and India at Buffalo Park on 19 January, 2023 in East London. (Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images)

The team have perhaps the best opportunity they’ve had to make their first World Cup final, but they are without a number of cricket stalwarts.

The Proteas Women kick off the T20 World Cup against Sri Lanka on 10 February at Newlands in Cape Town.

The match takes place the day after the second semifinal and a day before the final of the SA20, a tournament that has captured the imagination of the country.

Even though there is growing concern that a tournament as prestigious as a World Cup is being drowned out in the current abundance of cricket this season, Cricket South Africa director of cricket Enoch Nkwe has assured that this is exactly what supporters have been craving.

“A lot of South Africans are very thirsty for cricket. They’ve been wanting a chock-a-block summer of cricket,” Nkwe said.

On the field, the team have come close to reaching the pinnacle of the sport at a World Cup in recent years. In the last T20 edition in 2020 in Australia, South Africa reached the semifinal stage before being eliminated by the hosts and eventual champions via the Duckworth-Lewis method.

In the 50-over edition of the tournament, the Proteas Women have reached the last two semifinals – in 2022 and 2017.

It’s been close but no cigar in the past few years but with a World Cup finally at home for the first time since 2005, it was time to take the next step, Nkwe said.

“It’s pretty simple,” he said. “There is only one goal, only one KPI – and that is to win the World Cup.”

Captain Suné Luus of South Africa during the Women’s Tri-Series, 2nd T20I match between South Africa and West Indies at Buffalo Park on 21 January, 2023 in East London. (Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images)

Fallen stalwarts

The Proteas Women will have to make the trek into foreign territory without a number of players who have made the team a force in recent years.

Opening batter Lizelle Lee retired under controversial circumstances during the Proteas Women’s tour of England last year.

Stalwart Mignon du Preez retired from T20 cricket (the only version she was still playing internationally) in December.

There was another damaging blow recently when captain and all-rounder Dane van Niekerk was not selected for the T20 World Cup squad after she failed fitness tests.

“Regarding the Dane issue, it’s been tough on everyone. [Van Niekerk] I know will be very disappointed about what has transpired but as a team we need to move on,” said head coach Hilton Moreeng.

He confirmed that, although Van Niekerk was one of the team’s premier batters and bowlers, it was not possible to select her, despite her on-field prowess.

“For players to be available for selection, fitness is the first hurdle,” Moreeng said.

“It’s about how you balance the team post receiving the fitness results. [Fitness] is non-negotiable in the country. Every single professional cricketer knows it.”

_____________________________________________________________

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

________________________________________________________

Van Niekerk has not played for South ­Africa since September 2021 after an ankle injury. Before her injury, she was deployed as a top-order batter and first-choice leg-break bowler.

Her role as skipper of the side will be taken over by Suné Luus, who has been in charge since her first absence.

“She understands her role very well. She’s a very good leader,” said Moreeng about Luus. “She understands the job needs to get done. With the opportunity she’s gotten to lead the team, she’s grabbed it with both hands. Over the last year and a half to two years she’s led the team with distinction.”

To add further fuel to the fire, Van Niekerk’s wife, fast-bowling Proteas Women all-rounder Marizanne Kapp, was granted compassionate leave from the tri-series final match against India on Thursday, 2 February following Van Niekerk’s omission from the World Cup squad.

Full support

“We’re very happy with the form she is in and what she brings. We granted her leave so she can come to the World Cup and be ready to play,” said Moreeng about Kapp.

Kapp supported her wife on social media this past week, saying she was heartbroken. “One of the best captains in world cricket. You will be missed,” she wrote.

It remains to be seen in what mental headspace Kapp – who is an integral and experienced member of the team – is in when she returns to the Proteas Women fold heading into the World Cup.

One match at a time

The other teams in South Africa’s group – besides Sri Lanka – are Bangladesh, New Zealand and reigning champions Australia.

The Aussie women’s team is the most dominant team in the sport, having won the T20 World Cup back-to-back in 2020 and 2018 and having also won the 50-over edition more times than any other nation.

South Africa can only afford to slip up once in the group stage and a loss to Australia is no shame early in the tournament.

“It goes without saying; we’re playing at home, we have an opportunity to win a World Cup in front of our home supporters… We’re in conditions that we’re familiar with,” said Moreeng.

Big challenge

And though the Proteas are expected to beat Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – particularly on South African wickets – the big challenge to ensure the country progresses will be beating New Zealand.

The last time the two teams met, at the Commonwealth Games last year, New Zealand edged South Africa by 13 runs.

“The first hurdle for us is to make sure we get through the group stages and get ourselves in the knockout stages and then take it from there,” added Moreeng.

“The semifinals is what we’ve been consistent at reaching. Everything has been planned to make sure we give ourselves the best chance of reaching the final.

“We have enough experience. The core of the squad that has been picked for the World Cup has experienced these semifinals and they know what is required going forward,” he said. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ian Gray says:

    The selectors have pulled out all the stops – to make sure that the Proteas cannot win the cup! In fact, it will be a challenge to reach the knockout phase.
    The reactions in the opposing dressing rooms will be ones of shock and bewilderment followed by raucous laughter!!
    Yes, there are rules – and there is also a desire to win the trophy.
    Lizelle was never going to pass a weight test, but she is a massive presence on the field and hits a very long ball! If running in the field was seen as a problem, then she should be selected as the wicket-keeper!
    Mignon should surely have been persuaded to stay on another couple of months (wasn’t she player of the match in 2 games in the recent WBBL?) and Dane’s fitness should have been better managed – and then a plan made! Player of the Series in the 2021 One Hundred – you cannot leave out that talent!
    A batting line-up of Lizelle, Laura, Dane, Mignon, Marizanne, Sune and Chloe would have been a challenge even for the Aussies, but the replacements (who will hopefully be the stars of the future) are nowhere near the level required yet.
    Incompetence and bull-headedness will never be a winning strategy!

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

X

This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.


Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

Get DM168 delivered to your door

Subscribe to DM168 home delivery and get your favourite newspaper delivered every weekend.

Delivery is available in Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape.

Subscribe Now→

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.