JOHANNESBURG – The outcome was bitterly disappointing for a team wanting to show they were progressing.
South Africa were knocked out of the Women's World T20 largely because of errors the players and coaching staff committed, while the banning of Raisibe Ntozakhe was untimely, as were injuries to Saarah Smith and Trisha Chetty.
But it was the batting that let Dane van Niekerk’s team down - and not for the first time. At least this time it wasn’t inconsistent, which it has been in the past. It was consistent - consistently bad.
That Marizanne Kapp was the best of the batters speaks volumes. That she only scored 98 runs in four innings further underlines those batting failures. That she scored all those runs batting at No 3 shows that whatever pre-tournament planning was going on was just plain wrong. Kapp hadn’t batted at No 3 at any point in the preceding series’ and on most occasions in the Caribbean found herself coming in following the fall of an early wicket.
Lizelle Lee had a poor tournament and she is being specifically targeted by the opposition who recognise what a major threat she is.
For all her talent and hard work, at this stage it doesn’t look like Laura Wolvaardt is aggressive enough in the T20 format. At just 19, there is plenty of time for this to change and it is encouraging for her that she’s been picked up by the Brisbane Heat - along with Sune Luus - for the Women’s Big Bash League.
Her strike-rate of 64 in this year’s World T20 is simply not good enough for the international stage.
By the last game of the group stage, she was dropped with Van Niekerk returning to open the batting alongside Lee against Bangladesh - perhaps an option that should have been tried from the start of the tournament and even in the preceding months building up to the event, given the success the pair have had in the past.
Some of the planning on the day was poor, too. It does make one wonder exactly how much the team learned on the tour of the West Indies in September.
While Kapp and Shabnim Ismail are an outstanding new ball pair, choosing just one front line spinner in the match against England was a terrible mistake. The English picked three in their starting team and tied the Proteas in knots.
There are heightened expectations these days for the national side based largely on what they did at the 50-over World Cup last year. In addition, Lee, Van Niekerk and Kapp have had great success playing in the T20 Leagues in Australia and England and have underlined their class playing for franchises in those tournaments.
“We can beat anyone in the world, it depends on what we do on the day,” Van Niekerk said before the tournament.
That has been proven on a number of occasions in the last year, at home and away, but this tournament has seen the side regress.
Van Niekerk said after the last match against Bangladesh that her team need to get stronger mentally.
But that is not new. It’s now up to the players, the coaching staff and Cricket South Africa to interrogate how to genuinely do that.