Centurion – Women's cricket in South Africa has the potential to be as big as the men's game, says Protea women's cricket captain Mignon du Preez.
“In Australia, New Zealand and England, the women are playing on national television,” Du Preez said at Momentum's one-day cricket launch in Centurion on Tuesday.
“It's as big as the men's game, so hopefully we will get there soon.”
The financial institution's sponsorship of the women's national team included investing in full-time national coach Hilton Moreeng, support staff and contracts for six players – Du Preez, Dane van Niekerk, Marizanne Kapp, Marcia Letsoalo, Trisha Chetty and Shabnim Ismail.
On several occasions, the women's side had played in curtain-raiser matches preceding the men's side, in an effort to garner support from the South African public.
“We played at SuperSport Park on Heritage Day and there was quite a lot of support for us,” Du Preez said.
“At least it's starting – it's baby steps but hopefully we are getting there. We need to make people more aware of women's cricket.”
The women's side achieved a comprehensive home-series win against Bangladesh in September, where they won both the T20 and ODI series 3-0.
“I'm very happy with what we accomplished against Bangladesh. We just need to keep up that winning mentality.
“We want to carry the momentum from the Bangladesh series into the upcoming tour against Sri Lanka – another clean sheet would be ideal.”
The Sri Lankans, however, would provide a sterner test for the Protea women.
“Sri Lanka are very tough competitors and it's always touch and go – they win one, we win one – so it's definitely going to be a bigger challenge than it was against Bangladesh.
“We're up for it and want to make the nation proud again.”
The captain said the focus of the team would be in preparing for the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh next year.
Conditions in South Africa were vastly different from the sub-continent pitches and Du Preez expected her side to have the advantage in the home series.
“At the moment, all our games are scheduled to be played in Potchefstroom but we would like to play a game at The Wanderers or SuperSport Park to make it a bit harder for Sri Lanka.
“We want to give ourselves the benefit too, and we definitely have a more seam attack. They usually come with two seamers and five spinners. We're almost the other way around.”
The Proteas series against Sri Lanka, which consisted of three ODIs and three T20s, was scheduled to start on October 24 at Senwes Park.
The South African squad were quite a young side, Du Preez said, with a few players having made their debut against Bangladesh.
“They did absolutely brilliantly and we're very chuffed with the team and how far they've come.
“Lizelle Lee was a debutant in the series against Bangladesh and scored her first two fifties. Another name to look out for in the future is Sune Luus, a 17-year-old who is still at school.” – Sapa