Cape Town — Tazmin Brits’ journey to the promised land of an ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final has been littered with potholes along the way, but the Proteas’ opening batter was never going to give up.
That’s according to her mentor and current Namibia Women’s coach Francois van der Merwe.
Brits has not travelled the conventional road to being a professional cricketer. In fact, she wasn’t even a cricketer until crossing paths with Van der Merwe at the North West University campus.
At the time Brits was still dealing with the disappointment of missing out on fulfilling her lifelong dream of representing South Africa at the London 2012 Olympics in javelin due to being involved in a nasty car crash.
The mental trauma, in conjunction with the physical healing that took close to six months after the accident, was still fresh in Brits’ mind.
She needed a new challenge. Something to take her mind away from what she may have lost out on. Enter Van der Merwe and an intervention.
“I, honestly, don’t like talking about these things because it's Tazmin’s time to shine. She’s the one that has done all the hard work and lifted herself up from a really dark place,” Van der Merwe said.
“I know her parents very well. And she came to live with me for a few months. We had long chats during that time. It was a really tough period for her. But we had to focus on what she could still achieve on a different path. That’s when she poured all her energies into cricket and the North West provincial team that dominated South Africa’s women’s domestic cricket when she was our captain.”
But even after deciding cricket was her next adventure, there remained hurdles for Brits to overcome.
She was not a rookie trying to make her way that could rely on financial support from elsewhere. She had responsibilities that needed to be seen to, which forced her to take on a job as a waitress at a local restaurant in Potchefstroom while playing cricket.
The disappointment of missing out on selection to the Proteas’ squad for the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia was a heavy cross to bear as she was one of the leading run-scorers in South Africa’s domestic competition at the time.
But with the likes of former stalwarts such as Lizelle Lee and Dane van Niekerk occupying the opening batter positions, there was no place for Brits and she was very close to retiring from the game altogether, especially as she was not in possession of a Cricket SA contract at the time.
That’s not the Brits way though. And instead, she worked harder than ever, and is now the second-leading run-scorer at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, with 176 runs at an average of 44 heading into tomorrow’s much-anticipated final against Australia at Newlands.
“She will find a way to keep scoring runs. She doesn’t have the prettiest of techniques. But she will find a way,” Van der Merwe said.
“She backs away to leg-stump when the ball moves into her, and I saw that again in the semi-final against England. Yet, she still played a match-winning innings. That’s what Tazmin is about… she finds a way.
“She is such a competitor. It stems from her athletics background. It was hard initially for her, coming from an individual sport where she relied solely on herself for her success, to now have to count on her teammates.
“But that’s what she does. She will inspire the dressing room and drag everyone with her over the line. Look at those catches, she was always in the game. When you have had to fight for everything that you have ever received in your life, you find a way in the hard times.”
The entire South Africa will hope that Britz finds a way again on Sunday for the Proteas to be crowned ICC Women’s T20 world champions for the first time at Newlands.