The Proteas Women had a dream run at the World Cup, going all the way to the semi-finals. Photo: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – Proteas coach Hilton Moreeng has highlighted the importance of increasing the depth in women’s cricket as South Africa began preparations for a big year ahead with a camp at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria last week.

A 26-strong group were invited to the Cricket South Africa (CSA) Powerade Centre of Excellence from January 8-12 where they played one 50 over and four Twenty20 games and also held interactive sessions with the national coaches and the selectors.

The squad was made up of a mix of emerging and national players, with the exception of those involved in the Women’s Big Bash League taking place in Australia.

“During our debrief after a very successful World Cup last year, we felt there was a need to improve the depth,” head coach Moreeng explained.

“Hence we brought together 26 players in the country, including some of the national players, to look at them ahead of the upcoming series and to look at where we are as far as depth is concerned.

“We want to look at how much of work is needed because we need to make sure we can sustain the team going forward.

“For us it was to see how the youngsters go and for them to learn from the national players and understand where they fit in the system.

“Also they need to know what is required from them to make it at this level. I think the way they went about it was good.

“The national selectors were also here to speak to the players, informing them of the plans for the next two to three years and where we’re looking to go in women’s cricket.”

South Africa reached the semi-final of the ICC Women’s World Cup in England last year, narrowly losing to the hosts and eventual champions by two wickets.

Moreeng believes it is important to now build on that, saying that this latest camp gives the women’s game an opportunity to grow further.

“There were a lot of talented girls that came in and some of them are still at school,” he said. 

“For them, it was a very intimidating environment at first, which was expected, because one minute they were sitting at home watching these players on TV and now all of a sudden they’re rubbing shoulders with them.

“With the age group of the national side being so young, we felt it was a good time to start blending in more youngsters.

“Most of them came from very successful Under-19 Weeks where they’ve been consistent for their provinces.”

South Africa welcome World Cup runners-up India for a three-match WODI and five-game WT20I tour in the country starting next month. They are also scheduled to face England and New Zealand, all during a busy first six months of 2018.

There is also an Emerging Tour for the girls and Moreeng wants a big pool of players to be able to choose from.

“It’s for them now to make the step-up because we also have an Emerging Tour coming up in April where some of them will play, hence the number of players here,” he added. “We needed to make sure we can cater for both.” 

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