Empowering batters paying off for Proteas Women in India, says Baakier Abrahams

Proteas Women all-rounder Marizanne Kapp smashed 114 off 94 balls against India on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Proteas Women all-rounder Marizanne Kapp smashed 114 off 94 balls against India on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Published Jun 21, 2024


LOOKING from the outside in, it is easy to view the Proteas Women’s 143-run loss to India in the first ODI – where they were bowled out for 122 chasing 300-plus – and think there are major concerns around the group.

However, that would be a shallow diagnosis, given that Wednesday’s ODI series loss to India was only their second in the six series they have played in the last year.

A deeper dive into the side’s returns will reveal they have scored two 300-plus totals in the last three innings, and have done so at a quicker rate since newly appointed batting coach Baakier Abrahams got involved with the side.

Laura Wolvaardt alone has scored 11 sixes in her ODI career, and seven of those came off the last three games.

Abrahams revealed that the team’s improved scoring-rate is a result of the conversations and new batting philosophies they developed in their pre-tour camps in Pretoria last month, which saw them end on 321/6 in a valiant chase of India’s 325/3 in the second ODI in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Wolvaardt hit an unbeaten 135 off 135 balls (12x4, 3x6) and Marizanne Kapp 114 off just 94 deliveries (11x4, 3x6), but the South Africans fell four runs short of victory.

The third and final ODI is scheduled for Sunday in Bengaluru.

“The first thing we needed to uncover with the group was what style of cricket they wanted to play,” Abrahams told Independent Newspapers yesterday about the batting objectives of the camps prior to the India tour.

“It’s all good and well me having this idea in my head, but you want to empower players to come up with concepts. In that way, they take a little bit more ownership in terms of the implementation. From there, it follows on into how are we going to go about doing that.

— Proteas Women (@ProteasWomenCSA) June 20, 2024

“Then there’s two things that come to the fore – developing the skill-set that goes and the tactical side of things – because at the end of the day, you still have to understand your own game and how that applies to our philosophy.

“Encouraging them to continue evolving in terms of new skills and new options they can implement to allow that style and brand of cricket to take place.

“When you try to take positive options at every possible opportunity, every now and then you are going to get a blow-out, like what happened in game one.

“In our review of that game, the ladies were honest enough to say they never really applied our principles and how we want to go about things, hence you saw 122 in 37 overs.

— Proteas Women (@ProteasWomenCSA) June 20, 2024

“So, they were very adamant that they wanted to put that right in game two. It was good that the game showed itself up in terms of having to chase 300. I think that in itself freed them up.”

Apart from Wolvaardt, Kapp and Tazmin Brits, who have scored at least one century in the past two series (against Sri Lanka and India), the other batters have been in a lean patch.

Abrahams explained that at this point in time, what matters most is the improved intent from the likes of Anneke Bosch and Suné Luus, who make up the top five who are responsible for the bulk of the runs in any team.

“Yes, they (Bosch and Luus) did not get the volume of runs, but on review, if you look at some of the shot options and how early they took those options in terms of their innings, to me, that was significant for the group,” he said.

— Proteas Women (@ProteasWomenCSA) June 20, 2024

“Anneke and Suné have already shown glimpses of applying that mindset. I think there’s no doubt that they’ve got the skill-set. It’s now about instilling the confidence … it’s about instilling the freedom.

“If you watch Suné’s innings, it might have only been 13 balls, but if you look at her second ball, they got close to her and she hit it straight over the top for four.

“And then they came straight into her legs, and she showed that necessary intent and hit that for four through midwicket. And then they bowled a spinner, and she got inside the line and paddled because there was no short fine-leg.

“Those are the concepts that you are already starting to see unfold in these players. Now it’s a matter of doing it long enough and understanding how to do it long enough. The runs will then eventually accumulate.”