Dane van Niekerk: To see the juniors put up their hands is a massive message to all the seniors in the side. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Proteas captain Dane van Niekerk, praised her young team’s liberated approach with the bat at Centurion yesterday as they wrapped up the T20 international series against Sri Lanka 3-0.

Gone were the nerves of the first two games in a much better performance by the South Africans after they had stumbled across the line to claim a series win at the Wanderers last Sunday.

They were aggressive with the bat yesterday, and played more freely than had been the case a few days ago. Also more importantly they weren’t as reliant on Van Niekerk as they had been in the first two matches.

She still top scored with 38, but there were also good innings from Tazmin Brits who scored 36 (30b, 4x4, 1x6) and Lara Goodall, who struck the ball cleanly in a lively innings of 35 (30b, 3x4).

“At the Wanderers, we were a bit too cute and ‘pushy’ towards the ball, and while we know that there’s a lot of inexperience in the side, we wanted everyone to back their ability to hit the ball,” Van Niekerk said.

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For Sune Luus, yesterday’s match was redemptive. Left out of the squad initially, after her performances last year were deemed disappointing by the selectors, she has taken the opportunity granted to her by the injury to Chloe Tryon, to show she had heeded the call to perform more consistently and aggressively.

She played beautifully in scoring 26 off just 15 balls hitting a four and two sixes to finish off the SA innings and later added a wicket to walk away with a second consecutive Player-of-the-Match award.

Van Niekerk acknowledged that the decision to axe Lizelle Lee, because she did not adhere to the requisite fitness standards was a shock. 

“She’s a massive player for us, she’s as destructive as any batter in the world. But you have to make those decisions, you have to draw the line somewhere and we did just that,” Van Niekerk said.

“No individual is bigger than the team or the badge. That’s a message to everyone, myself included, if you don’t put the badge first and don’t put in the hard work then somebody else is going to take your place.

“To see the juniors put up their hands is a massive message to all the seniors in the side, you can’t be complacent anymore.”  

Results:

South Africa 163/5

Sri Lanka 124/8

SA won by 39 runs

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