Proteas skipper Dane van Niekerk talks to her teammates. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - The youthful talent emerging in the Proteas women’s team is “the stuff captains dreams are made of” and will give the team that elusive “X-factor”, says skipper Dane van Niekerk.

The Proteas are set to tour the West Indies and boast four graduates from the South African Emerging team whose performances last season made compelling arguments for selection. Saarah Smith, Tumi Sekhukhune, Robyn Searle and Faye Tunnicliffe are all exciting prospects who have been included for the three-match ICC Women’s Championship ODI and five-match T20 series.

The tour will play a big role in the tourists’ plans to secure points towards direct qualification for the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand, as well as solidify preparation for the first ever stand-alone ICC Women’s World T20 also in the West Indies in November.

“It’s really encouraging to see how much talent has come up in the last few years and that the CSA pipeline is developing some quality players,” Van Niekerk said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what these girls do and the fact that each offers something different and unique to the team’s needs is even better.

"That, mixed with other young talent that we already have in Laura Wolvaardt, Raisibe Ntozakhe and Zintle Mali is the stuff captains’ dreams are made of. It’s going to be a good headache for selectors when it comes to picking teams going forward.

“We have a lot to play for on this tour and I hope that the balance of youthful exuberance to experience will give us that ‘X-factor’ that we’re looking for because (the) West Indies as a team in home conditions is going to be a big challenge.”

Van Niekerk also believes the West Indies tour will provide the perfect opportunity for senior players to showcase their experience in conditions unknown to the majority of the team. South Africa’s last tour to the Caribbean was in 2012 and only four players remain from that squad.

“I think this is going to be a tough and challenging tour,” she said. “The heat, the humidity, their very unique pitches, it all comes down to one package that is designed to demand a lot out of a player and it’s why I’m really looking forward to seeing what the seniors do when they are presented with this type of challenge.”

The seniors Van Niekerk refers to are vice-captain Chloe Tryon, Mignon du Preez and Marizanne Kapp, while she believes Lizelle Lee, Masabata Klaas and Sune Luus will also play a big role in rallying up the predominantly young team.

“I’m going to look to them to help lead the youngsters and provide guidance in the change-room,” she added. “We have four players who have toured here and another handful of senior players who have played all over the world and know what it’s like to adapt to difficult conditions. We have been blessed with an exciting group of youngsters who are salivating at just the thought of getting started and we need to bottle that energy and distribute it wisely.”

Cape Times

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