A STAR RISES
Nadine de Klerk is beginning to stamp her all-rounder authority on the game
The Proteas’ Nadine de Klerk was rewarded with player of the series for her all-round showing against Pakistan in the recently concluded ODI series. But there is more to come from the hard-working cricketer.
It’s almost unfathomable that Proteas all-rounder Nadine de Klerk is only 23 years old. The Western Province cricketer has represented the national team since 2017, from the remarkably young age of 17.
After six years in the squad, but often in the periphery, De Klerk has finally found her feet at international level and is starting to stamp her authority.
In South Africa’s recently concluded white-ball tour of Pakistan, the all-rounder was only dismissed once with the bat and that was after she reached her career-high One Day International (ODI) score of 60.
She was also batting with a collapsing tail at the time and top scored for the Proteas in the final ODI – as part of her player-of-the-series showing.
In the fiery redhead the Proteas are unearthing a potentially world-class late-order finisher.
But before this season, De Klerk had struggled to set the international scene alight despite her clear potential. A large reason for that is the massive gulf between domestic and international women’s cricket.
“From a personal point of view it took me five to seven years… I don’t want to say adapt and get used to it… But to try and get myself on some sort of level to compete at international level, and I just think it’s a little bit too long,” De Klerk told Daily Maverick.
It’s about staying true to who I am as a batter. I’ve moved away from it in the past a little bit too much.
“I don’t think you can take five to seven years to get to that international level.
“You do have your superstars that only maybe take a year or two.
I hope that this (professionalising cricket) is the change because we really need it.”
South Africa only recently professionalised the women’s game.
De Klerk’s last hit-out before the tour to Pakistan was in The Hundred tournament in England, where she played for the Oval Invincibles and struck the fastest half-century of the tournament – off only 25 deliveries.
After starting her career as a batting all-rounder before struggling to nail the ball on the biggest stages, De Klerk has found her rhythm with the willow again.
“I definitely think playing more games has helped with that. It’s quite difficult not being a regular in the side and fighting for a position all the time,” she said, attributing her rise in form to regular gametime.
“In the last couple of months I’ve actually got a lot more opportunities and batted a lot more than I have in the past. It’s just the mindset change. It’s about staying true to who I am as a batter. I’ve moved away from it in the past a little bit too much,” De Klerk continued.
“I’ve moved away from my strength and my game a little bit too much… I just feel like I’ve figured out the way I want to play and I’ll try to be really consistent in doing that.”
If I ever do get the opportunity to bowl with the new ball for South Africa, I’ll definitely take that with both hands.
De Klerk is a naturally aggressive batter who strikes the ball as clean as a whistle when she gets going. But the looming threat of being dropped when not performing made the basher play in her shell instead.
“I’ve always been a little bit more of a naturally aggressive player. I’ve always played my shots, and I think I’ve moved away from that a little bit [in the past],” she said.
“I think it comes down to trying to find a permanent spot in the playing 11, so you tend to be a little bit too tentative and almost scared to fail. In the couple of months this changed and I played a lot of cricket as well.”
Bowling with the new ball
De Klerk’s bowling has picked up in the past season too, most notably when she collected career-best domestic figures of seven for 33 playing for The Blaze in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy in England back in May.
However, that was with the new swinging ball. Whereas when she plays for South Africa she is often deployed as a first or second change option.
De Klerk was South Africa’s highest wicket-taker in the three-match ODI series against Pakistan, picking up eight scalps with her accurate medium pacers.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Proteas Women conclude historic tour of Pakistan with another loss but lessons learnt
“I love my bowling,” she said. “Hopefully I can keep my batting and bowling on the same level and try and become a genuine out-and-out all-rounder and not specifically more batting- or bowling-wise.”
“If I ever do get the opportunity to bowl with the new ball for South Africa, I’ll definitely take that with both hands,” she shared.
“But at the moment I’m just happy to play the role that our captain and our coaches need of me.”
Marizanne Kapp remains South Africa’s premier all-rounder. But at 33-years-old and with the lure of franchise contracts across the globe, it’s reassuring for the national team that De Klerk is beginning to fulfil her potential in a similar role. DM