Johannesburg — If the men’s Proteas side feel they’re getting short changed when it comes to Test cricket, they should check their female counterparts for some perspective.
South Africa’s national women’s ramp up their preparation for their first Test match in eight years, and just their 13th ever, on Tuesday with a three day match against an England A side at Arundel Cricket Club in Sussex.
Of the men’s team’s last six Test series, just one — last summer’s set against India — has involved more than two matches. The calendar has been impacted by the Covid pandemic, but teams like England, Australia and India have still squeezed in series’s consisting of four and five matches.
The women should be so lucky. The Proteas last played a Test against India in 2014 and before that, their previous Test was against the Netherlands in 2007.
If the current chair of the International Cricket Council, Greg Barclay, is to be believed, South Africa’s women’s team could wait as long for their next match in whites. Barclay said in a recent interview in England, that women’s Tests will not be “part of the landscape moving forward to any real extent.”
So the South African players best cherish the next week, ahead of their historic Test against England — the seventh time the two countries would have met in the format. Shabnim Ismail is among just five members of the Proteas squad to have played a Test — the 2007 match in Rotterdam — while wicket-keeper Trisha Chetty could be in line to earn her third Test cap.
It will be a special occasion for all the players, but also a very challenging one given how little multi-day cricket they have played. The management sought to resolve that by having extended training sessions at the Cricket SA’s Centre for Excellence in Tshwane — although that only involved the players who were not participating in T20 competitions in Dubai and India.
So the three day match against England A is critical for all the players to find the necessary rhythm for the first class format. The Proteas have been boosted by the return of Marizanne Kapp and Lizelle Lee, while the confidence of the rest of the squad should be high after the dominant performances against Ireland.
Although, the Irish weren’t the strongest opponents, the game time for many of the players would have been invaluable as well as the opportunity to acclimatise to conditions.
Ismail said she had taken note of the different lengths needed in order to be successful, while she was also pleased with how she got the white ball moving in Ireland. “It was swinging nicely, so I’m excited to go to England and play with the red ball. Hopefully the ball shapes more. I’m looking forward to it,” said Ismail.
Proteas Squad for England Tour - Test & ODIs:
Anneke Bosch, Trisha Chetty, Nadine de Klerk, Lara Goodall, Shabnim Ismail, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Lizelle Lee, Suné Luus (capt), Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tumi Sekhukhune, Andrie Steyn, Chloé Tryon, Laura Wolvaardt.
England squad: Heather Knight (capt), Emily Arlott, Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Kate Cross, Alice Davidson-Richards, Freya Davies, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Amy Jones, Emma Lamb, Nat Sciver. Travelling reserve: Issy Wong
England A: Georgia Elwiss (capt), Maia Bouchier, Danni Gibson, Sarah Glenn, Freya Kemp, Eve Jones, Ella McCaughan, Kalea Moore, Tara Norris, Grace Potts, Grace Scrivens, Alexa Stonehouse, Mady Villiers , Lauren Winfield-Hill, Danni Wyatt