Proteas women fancy their chances against England
CAPE TOWN – Bring them on, says Proteas captain Dane van Niekerk.
The Proteas open their ICC T20 Women's World Cup campaign on Sunday against a powerful England side, who are also the current 50-overs world champions.
The English are regarded as one of the favourites for the title, particularly as they boast some of the superstars of the women’s game such as captain Heather Knight, Tammy Beaumont, Nat Sciver and Anya Shrubsole in their line-up.
However, Van Niekerk remembers how her team pushed England, who went on to lift the crown at Lord’s, all the way in a pulsating World Cup semi-final back in 2017. Equally, the Proteas skipper feels that for the first time in two years she has all the personal that did duty on that fateful day in Bristol all back together. It is likely that 10 of the 11 that played in the 2017 semi will take the field at the WACA on Sunday.
“I think the last time we had a full-strength side was in 2017 and we did really well there,” Van Niekerk said.
“So hopefully that counts in our favour and we still have to play really good cricket and stay true to the brand of cricket we want to play.
"You have to hit the ground running in your first game and what better way to face England in the first game.
“We know how crucial the game is and if we can get one up on them it will make our road to the semis much easier.”
Although the line-up will likely be similar, the Proteas have learnt a few lessons over the past couple of years and have adapted according to the shorter format. Regular opening batsman Laura Wolfvaardt will drop down to the middle-order, which will allow captain Van Niekerk to join Lizelle Lee upfront.
This change of tactics is to hopefully provide the Proteas with greater firepower against the new ball as they look to target the Powerplay.
“That’s out best combination. It’s nice to be back up there in the order with Lizelle Lee,” Van Niekerk said.
“She’s been phenomenal for us up the order hopefully she can come good, she hit a century at the WACA not long ago and I asked her if she could channel that again.”
Van Niekerk also did not hide the fact that the Proteas were going to attack England with the pace arsenal consisting of Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp and Ayabhonga Khaka.
The skipper fully believes in their quality, but has warned her bowlers not to be overly excited with the pace-friendly conditions at the WACA.
“They do set the tone upfront for us. I am very lucky to have them. They are going to be key at the Waca,” Van Niekerk said of her pace bowling trio.
“The conditions suit them but we need to be wary of not getting carried away with what the Waca has to offer. I think we need to see what the wicket has on the day and adapt from there.”
Proteas ICC Women’s T20 squad
Dane van Niekerk (captain), Laura Wolvaardt, Lizelle Lee, Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Sune Luus, Chloe Tryon, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Tumi Sekhukhune, Trisha Chetty, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Nadine de Klerk, Nondumiso Shangase.
Start: 1pm (SA time), TV: SuperSport