Cape Town — The ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand is going to be a batters bonanza like nothing that has ever been seen before, according to former Proteas Women’s batting coach Salieg Nackerdien.
Nackerdien, who worked with the Proteas Women’s team from 2016 until 2020 and was integral to the development of the team’s batting unit, believes the top teams in the world will push the boundaries quite literally.
The past weekend has already seen the World No 1 ranked Australia post 310/3 in their clash with arch-rivals England, who produced a stellar effort to fall just 12 runs short in their reply for a sum total of 608 runs in Hamilton.
There have also been four centurions in the first five matches with West Indies’ Hayley Matthews (119), New Zealand’s Sophie Devine (108), Australia’s Rachel Haynes (130) and England’s Nat Sciver (109 not out) all crossing the three-figure mark.
With all these teams’ batters producing consistently good totals there has been a concern about the Proteas’ effort thus far with Hilton Moreeng’s side bowled out for 207 in their opening game against tournament debutants Bangladesh.
While it was enough to get over the line on the day, New Zealand showed just what a below-par total it really was by chasing down Bangladesh’s 140/8 with only one wicket down in just 20 overs on Monday on the same surface in Dunedin.
“The women’s game has changed exponentially. When I arrived at the set up totals in the region around 200-220 was par. That hasn’t been the case for a while now and the batters are only getting better and stronger,” Nackerdien said.
“I know we’ve always encouraged our batters to be positive. We quickly identified that if we wanted to compete consistently with the likes of England, Australia and New Zealand then we needed to talk a different language and up skill.
“It was important to identify periods of the game where we could attack and where we were coming unstuck. The first Powerplay was crucial as we knew we had to get to about 50/60 runs and then look to maintain some form of momentum in the middle period.
“That was crucial, especially in regards to how we would play the spinners during this period and look to rotate the strike regularly before looking to launch again at the backend. We also needed to look for boundary options in the middle. I think our game against England in the 2017 World Cup showed the progress we were making already. Although we lost, we got up to about 300 trying to chase their 370.”
The Proteas have enjoyed plenty of success, particularly when chasing since then, by hunting down 266 and 260 against India (2021) and New Zealand (2020) respectively - both for the loss of just three wickets. They also posted their fourth-highest total ever of 299/8 against the West Indies leading into this World Cup.
However, these scores have been largely dependent on the form of star openers Laura Wolvaardt and Lizelle Lee, and while the return of the power-hitting Lee for Friday’s second match against Pakistan should add much-needed impetus to the batting unit, it does not take anything away from the fact that there were top-order batters hitting strike-rates of 33 and 27 respectively against Bangladesh last weekend.
“Dot balls have always been an issue. It is something we spoke about regularly in team debriefings,” Nackerdien said. “It was something I tried to address by creating ‘match situations’ for the players either in the nets or preferably in the middle sessions.
“It was about creating scoring options for them in terms of where the fielders were and how to look for a boundary and also different ways of getting off strike. Strike-rate is vitally important and we always looked at getting players to aim for 75-plus in one-day cricket.”