Star all-rounder Marizanne Kapp is back in the Proteas squad for the Pakistan series. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Star all-rounder Marizanne Kapp is back in the Proteas squad for the Pakistan series. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Proteas women happy to be back and doing what they love

By Zaahier Adams Time of article published Jan 12, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - Hilton Moreeng was like a kid in a candy shop yesterday. The Proteas Women’s team coach was all smiles and simply could not hide his satisfaction that his team were soon to play cricket together again.

Not even the disappointment of losing captain Dane van Niekerk and fellow senior player Chloe Tryon to injury for the upcoming Pakistan series could temper his excitement.

“The squad is good spirits, happy to be back given the opportunity to do what they love and we as the technical team have to make sure that the players are ready when the matches start,” Moreeng told reporters via Zoom ahead of the first ODI scheduled for Wednesday, 20 January at Kingsmead.

“For us it has been a year since the team has had a chance to get ready for competitive cricket post our camps and we are happy that everyone in the group is here and we can start discussing our preparations for Pakistan.”

The wait for the Proteas’ women’s team to get going again has certainly been a lengthy one. Their last competitive match was the ICC T20 World Cup semi-final against Australia at the SCG back in March.

They could only look on in frustration as their male counterparts stretched their legs in a T20 series against England in November and now also two Tests against Sri Lanka after the Covid-19 enforced hiatus.

In fact, Covid-19 has arguably had the biggest impact on Moreeng’s team as they could not build on any of the momentum gained by their brilliant showing at the T20 World Cup. Furthermore, their home season was decimated with the postponement of world champions Australia’s tour here last March, while they also missed out on prestigious tours to the West Indies and the United Kingdom.

But such was Moreeng’s disposition yesterday that he was only looking forward and at the “blessings in disguise” that the Covid-19 environment had created for his team.

Senior player Dané Van Niekerk won’t be available for the Pakistan series. Picture: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz

There has long been angst that the gap in standards between international women’s cricket and domestic women’s cricket was ever widening and that players coming into the Proteas’ set-up were off the pace.

The launch of the Women’s Super League - played at Newlands towards the end of last year - is an attempt to bridge this divide but Moreeng feels that the national training camps and enlarged squads required during Covid19 has given the Proteas management the opportunity to broaden its talent base while up-skilling the new players to the level required.

“Yes, it was frustrating at the beginning when the pandemic broke out because it was on the eve of the Australians coming to play on our shores. But then we looked at it as we are going into our off-season and it was chance for us as a high-performance team to work the players,” he explained.

“We brought in players from the high performance system and the U-19s, and we could really have a good look at our depth.

There is a World Cup coming up, so it was a good opportunity to see which players we could go forward with. Each and every player that we have here are players that we have worked with for the last four to five months, so nobody can be shell-shocked if an opportunity does arise.”

The entire Proteas’ women’s team and management have returned negative Covid-19 tests, while further positives emerging from the camp is that veteran all-rounder Marizanne Kapp has fully recovered from the illness that hampered her participation at the T20 World Cup which ultimately saw her miss the semi-final in Sydney.

@ZaahierAdams

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