JOHANNESBURG – The running joke about Marizanne Kapp is that on the field, she never smiles. So when the Sydney Sixers, the team she represented in the Women’s Big Bash in Australia last season, tweeted a picture congratulating her on her selection for the Proteas Women’s World Cup squad, it was fairly predictable she’d be “scowling”.
Australian wicketkeeper, Alyssa Healy, who is a teammate of Kapp’s at the Sixers, tweeted a sarcastic response about not finding a picture of Kapp smiling – “Shock horror,” said Healy.
Kapp doesn’t have “white line fever” in quite the same way that say André Nel had in his career, but she’s a deadly serious player and a key component of South Africa’s challenge in the World Cup.
Kapp’s the No1-ranked bowler in Women’s cricket and spearhead’s an SA attack that also contains Shabnim Ismail, one of the fastest bowlers in the world, the swing of Aya Khaka and spin from Dané van Niekerk and Sune Luus.
It’s an attack Proteas skipper Van Niekerk can’t wait to unleash at the tournament. “We’ve got great armoury,” said Van Niekerk, “we’ve got an amazing bowling attack; left-handers, pace, spin, off-spin, leg-spin, we’ve got the most variety in the world in our bowling attack.”
That group of bowlers is capable of winning matches and its leader Kapp is excited about the potential.
“This squad has been together for quite a while, this is the first time we’ve got such a strong squad, we’ve got a few players in the top 20 for batting and bowling. This is the first time we have a good team that can really win this trophy,” she said.
The 27 year old has taken 75 wickets in her 78 ODIs, at an average of 25.86 and has an economy rate of 3.55. She’d be the fastest bowler in the team were it not for Ismail, who can push the ball through at over 130km .
Against the stronger women’s teams, Kapp has struggled – she averages 76.66 with the ball against Australia and 49.83 against England – and if South Africa is to challenge for the title, that will have to change.
However, like her teammates, Kapp too, has had a mental shift that has gone from merely being excited about sharing the field with big-name players to believing that the Proteas can actually beat them.
“In 2014 when we played in the T20 World Cup we set a goal of reaching the semi-finals, and we did that and then we didn’t know what to do further. This time around, we’ve said it doesn’t stop at the semi-finals, it stops at the final.”
Kapp’s role doesn’t end with the ball, she’s a key middle order batter too – in fact her all-round prowess is underscored by the fact she’s ranked No3 on the all-rounders list – but whereas her batting output was essential a few years ago, now the run-scoring load has been spread around with Chloe Tryon, Van Niekerk and former skipper Mignon du Preez.