CAPE TOWN - Amid the pain of a sobering defeat on Tuesday, the Proteas could at least take solace from the fact that in Lizelle Lee they possess a genuine superstar to rival anyone in the women’s game.
England’s Tammy Beaumont and Sarah Taylor may have struck twin centuries for the world champions at Hove, but Lee’s overall consistency has been remarkable. The South African opener has been in superb form during this on-going Royal London ODI series, following up her undefeated 92 not out in the first ODI with a sparkling 117 off just 108 balls. It follows on from her performances in the recent Bangladesh home series, where she also bludgeoned 244 runs at an average of 61.
It is not just the immense appetite for runs that makes the Ermelo slugger such a potent force, but also her destructiveness. Lee’s second fifty at Hove came off only 22 balls, showcasing her power, especially through and over the leg-side. There were five sixes slapped towards mid-wicket, with Sophie Ecclestone bearing most of the brunt with Lee bashing successive maximums off the left-arm spinner, including a hefty blow that smashed into the roof of the nearby apartments.
“The way Lizelle went about her innings was simply awesome. Her striking was just insane! The way she set up her innings was brilliant. I couldn’t fault her innings at all,” Proteas captain Dane van Niekerk said after her team fell 69 runs short chasing a record 332 runs for victory. “I thought we on target at the halfway stage, especially the way Lizelle was hitting the ball. But unfortunately the middle-order did not come to the party.”
The Proteas now head to Canterbury for Friday’s decider, still in with a chance of becoming the first South African women’s team to win a series in England. Lee will undoubtedly need to play a significant role if the record books are to be torn up, but Van Niekerk is fully aware that her team needs to absorb lessons from the Brighton defeat, particularly the bowling unit who endured a rare off-colour day.
“They (England) played really well. They took the game to us. I think we just expected it to happen like it did in the first match and I think that was the frustrating thing for me out in the field. We didn’t fight for wickets. There was no seam movement and we didn’t sum up the conditions very well,” Van Niekerk added.
“It wasn’t hard luck. It was bad execution from the bowling unit. We need to box smart. I think we did that in the first game really well. We summed up the conditions. Our execution was near-perfect. That’s how we are going to beat England.”