JOHANNESBURG – The Women's World T20 starts in Guyana tonight with a match between India and New Zealand. Dane van Niekerk’s South Africa side begin their challenge on Tuesday morning (SA time) against Sri Lanka. IOL Sport's Stuart Hess looks at the five key players who have to be in top form if the Proteas are to make a deep run at the tournament.
One of the most destructive hitters in the game, Lee will be one of the most watched players at the tournament. She can hit a ball further than most men, although she states she’d rather time the ball well than hit with power. Whichever way she does it, her teammates don’t care as long as she gets on top of the opposing attack early because they know they are then in with a chance of winning.
She recognised that perhaps she erred too much on the side of subtlety on the tour of the West Indies two months ago and is back to utilising her mantra "see ball, hit ball" to propel the Proteas to quick starts.
Dane Van Niekerk
The captain is one of the most experienced and talented T20 players in the game. Van Niekerk can bat anywhere in the order and mixes creative stroke play with prodigious big hitting. Her leg-spin, on what many expect to be slow and low tracks for the competition, is crucial.
She is a genuine big-game player and will thrive in the hotly contested environs of tournament play. Under her leadership the South African side have developed a tougher attitude, but they now need to ally that with better performances, particularly with the bat.
Van Niekerk has grown ever more irritated explaining her team’s inconsistency in that category, she does not want to be repeating herself in two weeks' time.
One of the premier all-rounders in the game, and like Lee and Van Niekerk, a player who’s gained vast experience thanks to playing - very successfully - in the T20 leagues in the UK and Australia. Kapp is a naggingly accurate new-ball bowler who has reasonable pace and can swing the ball away from the right-hander. But she more often than not targets the stumps, making her a deadly operator who can shut down the opposition in the powerplays.
A superb athlete, she patrols the boundary as well as anyone in the game and has a strong, accurate throwing arm. She probably has more to offer with the bat but is often coming in late and needing to propel the ball to the boundary, which she’s more than capable of doing.
Affectionately known as "Baby G" (Baby Giant), Tryon is another powerful hitter capable of smashing a cricket ball many a mile. She stands apart from many other players in that she doesn’t need long to adjust to conditions and get her eye in, making her an expert finisher. If she is given time, she can really hurt an opposing bowling attack with her favourite areas being the region between midwicket and long-on.
She bowls useful right-arm medium pace and slots into the category of "golden arm" for her ability to claim big wickets at key moments. It’s with the bat that she’ll win games for South Africa, however, and she’ll be responsible for marshalling the tail when situations demand.
Holder of the best figures for a South African bowler in the T20 format - she claimed 5/8 against Ireland at the 2016 World T20 - Luus has been given a bigger role in the side in recent years with the bat. Her leg-spin may not be consistent but she gets wickets, especially with opposing batters trying to attack her. With the bat, she’s been moved up the order and given a bit of licence recently to attack.
Not a big hitter in the mould of a Lee or Tryon, Luus relies on hitting the ball into gaps and she is very quick between the wickets - an important element even as the women’s game is becoming known for the big hitters.