Proteas captain Dane van Niekerk aiming to gain match fitness in WSL

Dane van Niekerk has made steady progress in recent months, playing a few games in The Hundred for the Oval Invincibles.

Dane van Niekerk has made steady progress in recent months, playing a few games in The Hundred for the Oval Invincibles. Picture: Jason Cairnduff Reuters

Published Nov 23, 2022

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Cape Town - Dane van Niekerk will utilise the upcoming Women's T20 Super League (WSL) to gain much-needed match fitness ahead of an all-important summer for the Proteas.

The national team captain last played for the Proteas against the West Indies in September 2021 - almost 14 months ago - due to an ankle injury suffered ahead of the World Cup earlier this year.

Van Niekerk has made steady progress in recent months, playing a few games in The Hundred for the Oval Invincibles and also for the SA Emerging XI in August.

However, the 29-year-old all-rounder missed out on returning to Australia this month for the Big Bash League, where she has participated in over the last few years.

Van Niekerk, though, has confirmed to IOL Sport that she will be playing in the WSL, which will be held in Cape Town from 12-16 December.

After its Covid-19 enforced cancellation in 2021, the WSL has added significance this season due to South Africa hosting the Women’s T20 World Cup early next year.

Equally, South Africa are also hosting the inaugural Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup prior to the main event.

Cricket SA have therefore prioritised the WSL this season, particularly with the SA U19 team joining three specially crafted teams, named the Coronations, the Starlights and the Thistles.

“At a time when women’s cricket in South Africa is taking centre stage, the return of the WSL is exquisitely timed as it brings together the best of the best this country has to offer, all in one central venue, as the national coaches and selectors begin to conclude their World Cup readiness,” said CSA chief executive Pholetsi Moseki.

“Newlands Cricket Ground will also be hosting the opening match of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in February next year, making this season’s WSL an incredible occasion, giving the people of Cape Town a preview of some of the country’s best cricketers in their backyard before the rest of the world arrives on our shores.”

CSA senior cricket manager Johan Weyers said: “The WSL is a platform from which the players can contest for higher honours. The main objective is to grow the talent base through deliberate efforts in identifying, nurturing, and managing the players.

“More competitive cricket in the women’s game is needed to produce quality cricketers and to improve the pool of players for national selection this year.

“It is a very exciting time for Cricket South Africa; being the host of the inaugural ICC U19 T20 World Cup as well as the Women's T20 World Cup.

“WSL 4.0 will provide the much needed preparation for our U19 team and most of our Proteas players are also available for the tournament this year, which makes it very exciting. We are looking forward to competitive cricket and providing that base that the players can use to prepare for the upcoming international events.”

The tournament fixtures and participating players and coaches will be confirmed in due course.

@ZaahierAdams

IOL Sport