Johannesburg — The smiles were back on the faces of the Proteas players as they ended their tour to England with a resounding victory over a hapless Sri Lanka at Edgbaston Thursday.
The South Africans, who have endured a torrid time on and off the field on tour in England, at least return home with some good memories. It was a performance that they’d wished they could have had earlier on the tour.
They were energetic, clinical in the field and accurate with the ball.
Of course, critics may point out that it was ‘only’ Sri Lanka, and that having already lost to England and New Zealand earlier in the Commonwealth Games, there was nothing at stake yesterday. And they would be right but it was also important that Sune Luus’ side created some kind of building block ahead of the T20 World Cup that will be hosted in South Africa next February.
There will undoubtedly be a detailed debrief for the director of cricket Enoch Nkwe, head coach Hilton Moreeng and all the players, but this win will provide at least an iota of optimism from which those meetings can take place.
Shabnim Ismail, who has struggled with injuries and form, produced a fine spell — starting with a wicket with her first ball, when an ugly swipe from Hasini Perera saw the ball edged to wicketkeeper Sinalo Jaftha.
That was followed in the next over by another catch for Jaftha, again from an outside edge, this time by Harshitha Samarawickrama, to give Masabatha Klaas her first wicket.
After a bad performance against England in which she conceded 21 runs in her first over, Nadine de Klerk flipped the script, with a double wicket maiden in her first over and eventually finished with career best figures of 3/7 off her four overs.
The Proteas produced their best fielding performance of the tour, with Mignon du Preez and Laura Wolvaardt taking brilliant diving catches in the covers, while Wolvaardt was also involved in a nifty run out with Jaftha.
It was Sri Lanka’s lowest total in a T20 International, eclipsing the 57 they scored against Bangladesh 10 years ago. That was an incredible match, in which the Bangladeshis won by successfully defending a meagre total of 62.
Openers Anneke Bosch (20*) and Tazmin Brits (21*) knocked off the runs with little fuss in 6.1 overs.
Some of the players, including Ismail, Wolvaardt and Du Preez will remain in England for The Hundred tournament that starts next week.
They will be joined by the recently retired Lizelle Lee, while full-time captain Dane van Niekerk, who is in the final stages of her rehabilitation, is expected to return to the Oval Invincibles team who she led to the title last year alongside Marizanne Kapp.
Kapp was given permission to leave the England tour after the ODIs to be with her family.
Sri Lanka 46 all out
South Africa 49/0
South Africa won by 10 wickets