Johannesburg — The Proteas women’s stay at the Commonwealth Games is likely to be a short one after they suffered their eighth consecutive defeat — seven of those against England — at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
In another limp performance — a feature of their tour to England — the South Africans were overwhelmed by England’s power with the bat, intensity in the field and intelligence with the ball.
Again there were fleeting moments that provided hope; Shabnim Ismail produced her best performance of what has otherwise been a very difficult tour, by clean bowling the hard-hitting Sophia Dunkely first ball, with a magnificent yorker. She returned a few overs later and picked up Danni Wyatt, with a ball that moved away from the right hander beautifully off the seam.
The trouble for the Proteas was that in between those two wickets, Nadine de Klerk, who replaced Delmari Tucker, bowled a wretched over of full tosses, that the English batters crushed for 21 runs in the fourth over, with 20 of those coming with boundaries. Alice Capsey, the 17-year-old brought in England’s starting team for the injured Heather Knight, scored an adventurous 50 that came off 37 balls and included seven fours and a six.
Another moment of hope arrived just after the halfway mark in the England innings, when the Proteas picked up three wickets for five runs in the space of eight balls to leave the hosts on 94/5 after 13 overs.
Ismail and left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba were the best of the SA bowlers, the former finishing her spell with figures of 2/27, while Mlaba claimed 1/22.
The rest of the attack struggled and England recovered from their period of angst thanks to an unbeaten 73-run partnership for the sixth wicket between Katherine Brunt, who made 38 not out off 23 balls, and Amy Jones, who scored 36 off the same number of deliveries.
Although openers Anneke Bosch and Tazmin Brits shared a partnership of 64 for the first wicket, those runs were scored far too slowly. The pair battled to score at a rate of more than seven runs an over and by the time Bosch was out in the ninth over for 32 off 28 balls, the required rate, originally eight an over, had jumped to 9.3.
Britz hit five boundaries in her innings of 38, but used up 37 balls in doing so, and by the time Chloe Tryon got to the crease, the Proteas needed a miracle. Unfortunately Tryon couldn’t provide it and she was out caught on the long-on boundary, off the bowling of the redoubtable Brunt, for 16 to end SA’s chances.
The Proteas will need a helping hand from Sri Lanka, who must beat New Zealand later on Tuesday evening, to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.
Failing that, Thursday’s match against Sri Lanka, will be the last match for SA, and for many of the players they will be happy to end a miserable tour.