Dane van Niekerk excited about 'standup guy' Smith's plans for Proteas

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Apr 24, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Dane van Niekerk is looking forward to working with whoever is appointed Proteas coach, with the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand a priority for a team that is close to its peak. 

Cricket South Africa (CSA) opened the process for application for the head coaching position of the Women's national team last month, with Hilton Moreeng understood to have put his name back in the hat. Moreeng has had a seven year stint with the Proteas, the highlights of which were runs to the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup in 2014 and 2020 and the 50-over World Cup in 2017. 

This year’s display in Australia - on the back of the 3-0 ODI series win in New Zealand - were crucial successes at a time when Moreeng’s position was under increasing pressure. Following that outstanding display in England in 2017, where the side took eventual champions England to the last over in a thrilling semi-final, the side’s performances plateaued and in 2018 they were embarrassingly knocked out in the group stages of the T20 World Cup.

Van Niekerk said she would be keen to work with whoever CSA appointed as head coach.

At the end of the day, it's more of what CSA feels is the direction they want to go for the team and we will respect it,” said Van Niekerk, who has led the side for the last four years. 

She and former skipper Mignon du Preez met with CSA’s Director of Cricket Graeme Smith at the T20 World Cup in Australia where they gained an understanding of the perspectives he had about the national women’s team. “We had a couple of chats about where we are at and where we went to go. He’s a stand up guy. What he wants to achieve with the teams is quite exciting,” said Van Niekerk.

Dané van Niekerk’s team came close to winning their semi-final against Australia at the 2020 T20 World Cup. Photo: EPA

She does feel there is no need to treat male and female players differently when it comes to coaching the fundamentals of the game. “Cricket is cricket and that is the part of the stigma we need to change. Men's cricket and women's cricket, we need to accept it for what it is. We work just as hard, the skill is the same, we don’t hit the ball as far, but we do hit the ball. We bowl the ball, hit it and catch it. If we keep looking at it as men's and women's, we don’t go forward we need to look at it as cricket,” she said.

Van Niekerk is clear about where her team must improve if they are to move beyond the semi-finals at global tournaments. “I think with our fielding its a case of having a general awareness around it. Just the crunch moments you need to take the half chances which can change a game, we’ve been found wanting with those small areas. We’ve covered the big area, now it’s about those finer details that we need to scrub up.”

As is the case for all sport, cricket’s future - especially for the remainder of the year - has a murky outlook. The ICC said Thursday it is keen on keeping the mens T20 World Cup - scheduled for October - in place as well as the women’s 50-over World Cup which is scheduled for January next year in New Zealand.

What happens in terms of the build-up is extremely unclear and will only be determined by the Covid-19 pandemic.

@shockerhess

The Star

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