CAPE TOWN - South Africa have only defeated England once in the last 19 One-Day Internationals between the two sides.
Equally, the Proteas have played in just one ICC Women’s World Cup semi-final before. England, meanwhile, have won the competition three times outright - second only to six-times champions Australia.
Considering England also posted a record 373/5 against South Africa in the round-robin clash earlier in the tournament, it does not take a mathematical genius to calculate that the hosts are heavy favourites in the first semi-final at Bristol on Tuesday.
Nobody, though, has dared whisper this to South Africa’s impressive young leg-spinner Suné Luus, who believes all that has gone before matters not a jot in a knockout match.
“Once you get into the semi-final there’s no ‘this is a more superior team’ or ‘this is the inferior team,’ I think everyone is equal once they have reached this stage,” said Luus, who claimed 5/67 on Saturday against the Aussies.
“Both teams have done really well to get there, there’s a reason why every team is in the semi-final. I think it’s gonna be a great game of cricket.”
Although still only 21-years-old, Luus though has tasted the pressure of a major semi-final against England before. Three years ago at the World T20 in Bangladesh, it was all rather embarrassing for Luus when she collided with teammate Chloe Tryon while running between the wickets and ended up in a heap in the middle of the pitch.
It was one of five run-outs South Africa suffered on a dismal day in Dhaka, which is why Luus knows every aspect of the Proteas’ play needs to be on point if they are to make history of their own at The County Ground.
“All the departments need to work together finally as a unit,” Luus explained. “The bowlers need to bowl the middle overs as well as they do the first few and the last few overs of the match, the batters need to not lose early wickets up front and wickets in clusters in the middle period. We need to also be really sharp when we field.”
South Africa should certainly enter the tie with the confidence that they have the bowling unit to put England under pressure. Captain Dane van Niekerk is the tournament’s leading bowler with 15 wickets, while Luus found some good form against Australia.
The pace bowlers have also struck regularly with the new ball - ironically, bar the encounter against England - and there’s no doubt Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail will be desperate to show that was a rare off day at the office.
“Our bowling attack has been very good in this tournament,” Luus said. “With the exception of the game against England, I think we have shown that we do have the best bowling attack in the world.
“The batting has really improved as well, in previous tournaments, we could never get to 250, now we’re scoring 300s against England and that just shows how much the ladies have grown.”