Protea women on top of their game
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Barely 18 months ago, South Africa stumbled through the Caribbean as if they had just been on the Jolly Roger. Consequently, they weredismissed from the ICC Women’s World T20 without firing a shot in anger.
Two years before in India they had been even worse beating only the likes of Ireland. Whatever was happening in the shortest format - and plenty was - the Proteas were being left behind.
Changes were made, and today - weather permitting - South Africa will play hosts and defending champions Australia in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup in Sydney.
The notion of the women’s side being so close to becoming the first senior Proteas team to reach a World Cup final so shortly after where they were hasn’t come about by chance though. Over the past 12 months, Dane van Niekerk’s troopers hosted Sri Lanka and Pakistan for three and five T20Is respectively, while they also travelled to India for another five and also to New Zealand prior to arriving in Australia for a further five matches.
“We’ve played the most international cricket out of everyone, it just shows the preparation and learning of how to go about it,” Van Niekerk said yesterday. “We’ve been on tour 54 days already, it’s not as if we’ve just come over here and are on a 20-day tour. That’s helped us a lot in this World Cup. We also tried to focus on ourselves.”
The majority of this squad boasts the experience of the World Cup semi-finals. Eight of the current squad played in the 2014 World T20 defeat to England in Dhaka, while 10 of the expected starting XI to feature at the SCG today still wear the scars of the 50-overs World Cup loss in Bristol.
“We don’t want the heartache of 2017 again. It was very tough for a lot of the players and management, we’re definitely going to do everything we can to make sure we don’t have that feeling again.”
The Proteas have never gone beyond the semi-final of a major tournament, and they are yet to beat Australia. They may have to do it without star all-rounder Marizanne Kapp, who is still suffering from the effects that forced her off the field in the previous game against Pakistan.
10am (SA time). TV: SuperSport