Johannesburg - The Proteas Women are in search of something, they have been very far from attaining in England - playing a perfect game - when they face the hosts in a must-win Commonwealth Games encounter on Tuesday.
A 13-run defeat to New Zealand in their opening Group A encounter on Saturday added more misery to what has so far been a dreary tour, particularly from a results perspective.
There were costly errors in the field again on Saturday - a constant feature throughout their tour to England. Two catches were dropped - one by Sinalo Jaftha a very difficult opportunity - while Suzie Bates, who top scored for New Zealand with 91, was gifted two chances, the first when she had 26 with Ayabonga Khaka dropping a sitter at midwicket and the second when she had 54, and Mignon du Preez chose not to throw at the stumps, with Bates well short of the crease.
Now South Africa, who again started tentatively with the bat, have to beat England, to whom they’ve lost six consecutive times on tour, in the second match on Tuesday.
“We’ve played them enough now to know what is required to beat a team like England. They’l have the crowd behind them and we’ll have to play a perfect game. We haven’t seen that in the last couple of weeks, hopefully on Tuesday it can come off.”
If that does occur it will be a performance that’s come out of nowhere, because South Africa failed to get themselves out of a rut, since the first ODI against England three weeks ago.
The continued absence of fulltime skipper Dane’ van Niekerk has been felt, while the shock retirement of Lizelle Lee sent tremors through the squad. To make matters worse, the team’s best player Marizanne Kapp, had to return home for family reasons. On top of that Luus and Shabnim Ismail’s form hasn’t been good, a new set of players are struggling to adapt to the international game, putting more of burden on the top performers like Laura Wolvaardt and Chloe Tryon, who was by some distance the best Proteas player on Saturday.
“You’ve got the fire blowing, the crowd is loud, music is going and that can make it hard to focus, but it’s T20, you have to stay in the moment. All these things are learning experiences which will take into the next couple of games,” said Luus.
Tuesday’s match starts at noon. South Africa’s final Group game is against Sri Lanka on Thursday.