JOHANNESBURG – Dané van Niekerk’s squad will have five weeks together ahead of the ICC World T20 in Australia, but well before then they have a pressing engagement in New Zealand that demands the side’s attention.
Starting on Saturday week, the Proteas play a three-match ODI series against New Zealand in which crucial points in the ICC Women’s Championship are up for grabs. Those points determine which teams will gain automatic qualification for the 2021 50-over Women’s World Cup in New Zealand.
Thereafter, Van Niekerk’s Proteas play five T20 Internationals, where they will properly ramp up their preparations for the World T20 tournament, which for the South Africans starts with a match against England at the Waca in Perth on February 23.
The three ODIs against New Zealand’s White Ferns, will go a long way towards determining the South African team’s schedule for the rest of this year. As hosts the White Ferns have already secured a spot in the World Cup, while four other teams will also earn an automatic spot through the Womens Championship - an eight team competition spanning two years, which sees teams facing each other in a minimum of three matches per series on a home and away basis.
Van Nierkerk’s side currently occupy fifth place on the table behind Pakistan on net run rate and ahead of New Zealand by two points. One win against New Zealand will lift South Africa past Pakistan and a series win would be a real bonus just about cementing their spot in the World Cup next year.