Cape Town — Proteas’ Women’s coach Hilton Moreeng is adamant that he has “the strongest 15 available for selection” and that he firmly believes that “it’s the best” combination to win the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.
The home team, who are set to play the opening game of the tournament against Sri Lanka at Newlands next Friday, have been submerged in chaos after Dane van Niekerk was omitted from the 15-player T20 World Cup squad.
The former captain was overlooked due to not meeting the national squad’s fitness requirements, which includes running a 2km time trial in under 9 mins 30 secs.
The fall-out has been immense with Van Niekerk “absolutely broken”, while her wife and teammate Marizanne Kapp has requested ‘compassionate leave’ and will therefore miss the Tri-Series T20I final against India in East London on Thursday.
The clash against the 2021 T20 World Cup runners-up is the Proteas’ final official match before the tournament gets under way.
“At the end of the day when you look at what are the minimum standards required for players to be able to firstly be available for selection … all players around the country know what is required. At the end of the day it’s how you balance the team post the results that you get from the fitness requirements because it’s a non-negotiable in the country,” Moreeng said about Van Niekerk’s non-selection.
“Every single professional cricketer knows it. Hence we have bigger squads, so we can make sure we have enough depth in certain positions. It’s the strongest 15 available for selection for us and yes we believe it’s the best especially for the conditions we’re going to (face).”
But what about Kapp? Does Moreeng expect his star all-rounder to return and assimilate herself back into the rest of the squad?
“She is part of the World Cup squad and is committed to us. I think she needed the break now and she’s been granted compassionate leave post the last game,” he said.
“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.”
Moreeng’s primary task leading up to the opening game next week will be to rebuild the squad’s morale and get the team to focus on the job at hand, which is significant in its own right with South Africa hosting the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup for the first time.
It has its own pressures, as we have seen with the Proteas’ Men’s team who have failed to progress to the knockout stages in each major ICC tournament, which includes the 2003 World Cup, 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2009 Champions Trophy, that’s been held in South Africa.
Equally, the Proteas’ Women also failed to advance from the 2005 Women’s World Cup group stages on home soil.
Moreeng, though, is confident his charges can refocus.
“The players are very professional, they know that these things happen. It’s something that you can’t control yourself and we don’t wish it on any player. For us, it’s to make sure that we finish the tri-series on a high and take that form into the World Cup.
“They know they need to get on with it and to make sure that they can put the performances on the field. Overall, the squad understands what needs to happen and we have to move forward.”