Johannesburg — Proteas women’s spinner and number two ranked T20I bowler in the world Nonkululeko Mlaba is humbled by the three award nominations she has received for her stellar 2022/23 season in the green and gold.
The Cricket South Africa awards are set to make a return this coming Friday where the country’s best performing cricketers will be recognised and awarded for their achievements in the past season.
One the stars of last season is Proteas women’s spinner, Nonkululeko Mlaba, who played a vital role in getting South Africa to their very first final at a World Cup.
Mlaba has been nominated in three categories — Fans Player Of The Year, Women’s T20I Player Of The Year and for the Delivery Of The Year.
This comes after the spinner managed to propel herself to the top two best bowlers in the world in WT20I cricket.
“I’m very happy, excited and humbled by these nominations,” Mlaba told IOL Sport in an exclusive interview.
“This shows that I’ve been doing the work behind the scenes and now the recognition is coming my way.
“I think I deserve these nominations and all this recognition. Ever since I started playing competitive cricket, I’ve always said I will be ranked number one in the world and that hasn’t changed.” She added.
Mlaba comes from a KwaZulu-Natal township called Ntuzuma where her love for the game came about. At 13 years of age, Mlaba picked up the sport and she has not stopped ever since.
In those days, getting to Kingsmead Stadium in Durban was a challenge for Mlaba just like it is for many youngsters in the townships and rural areas who have to take multiple taxis to get to proper training facilities and coaching.
Recognising the challenges Mlaba faced in terms of accessing regular training, CSA and Betway collaborated to provide her with accommodation near Kingsmead Stadium in Durban.
“For them to bring me close to the stadium, it really helped me develop my game to be where it is now,” said Mlaba.
“I had easy access to the facilities and the coaching that I needed to get my game to where it needed to be for me to make my international debut,” she added.
CSA’s Pathways Manager, Eddie Khoza was one of the people who were involved in setting up this program for Mlaba all those years ago.
Khoza told IOL Sport that CSA and Betway were intentional in providing Mlaba with all that she needed to make her dreams a reality.
“She is a living example of an intervention that was intentional, and it actually delivered for a person like her who is now ranked number two in the world,” said Khoza.
“It just shows that if we had the resources to be able to make these performance interventions, our country would go far.
“When you look at where Mlaba is coming from with all those challenging circumstances and you look at where she’s sitting now with a national contract, she’s making a living out of the game; she’s actually living a dream.
“What is very important is that she has put in a lot of hard working behind the scenes to propel her career to where it is now,” Khoza continued.
Khoza acknowledges that there are many cricketers out there who might benefit from a program similar to the one Mlaba had.
“There are more players out there that if we probably can get more corporate support to assist us in making these personal individual interventions, we’d probably produce more cricketers,” said Khoza.
“It shouldn’t be their personal circumstances that prevent them from living their dreams. If all the other things are taken of, good performances do come through,” he concluded.