The Proteas women are hard at work preparing for the 2019 season. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – The Proteas women have assembled in Pretoria for their first national camp of 2019 at the Cricket South Africa (CSA) Centre of Excellence. 

Sixteen players, including members of the Powerade National Academy, have been put through their paces since Monday, as the national team looks to have a more successful year, starting with their inbound tour against Sri Lanka on February 1. 

Head coach Hilton Moreeng is pleased to see that a lot of work has gone into individuals’ preparation for the new year during the festive season and is particularly impressed with the refreshed mood and spirit within the camp, even as the players are being put through rigorous drills. 

“It was good for us to get together again as a squad and touch base with everyone, especially those who did not participate in the World T20,” he began. 

“It was a good time to reassess where we are as a team and also to sit down and revisit our goals for this year. At the same breath, we needed to make sure that the players are staying fit and that the skills are sharp and that they are where they need to be by the time Sri Lanka arrive. 

“For us, it’s very important to keep seeing new faces coming into the set-up. The mood in the camp is also much better from the last time we saw each other after the World T20. 

"Players are eager and excited again and youngsters always bring a breath of fresh air into the camp.” 

Watch: the Proteas Women at training:

The group, which is assembled until Friday, is not the complete group of identified players. 

Six members of the national team are currently representing their respective Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) teams in Australia and have been playing competitive cricket for the last six weeks. 

They are captain Dané van Niekerk, Laura Wolvaardt, Mignon du Preez, Lizelle Lee, Suné Luus and Marizanne Kapp. Moreeng said he and his coaching staff have been in regular contact with those players to ensure that they are still on the right track for the busy year ahead. 

“Overall, we have an identified squad of 26 players whom we are looking at ahead of the 2021 (ICC Women’s) World Cup with more projected to come with youngsters from the Under-19 set-up showing good signs for the future,” the coach continued. 

“At the end of the day, it’s about performance and making sure that the team gets better. 

“We’re definitely keeping a keen eye on the senior players in the WBBL. We have good monitoring systems from a conditioning and skills perspective which keeps us informed on what is happening to them. 

"Every week we touch base with them on what is happening and what they are up to and we, of course, follow the games and their performances. They are aware of their duty to their country and that we expect good performances from them. 

"We’re very happy that they are playing cricket and that’s also why we decided to have this preliminary camp for those players who are here at home to make sure that they are still on top of their game in terms of skills and conditioning.” 

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South Africa have a busy year of international cricket coming up but more important than that is the three ICC events – the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup and the 2022 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup – that  are scheduled for the next three years that the coach is keeping an eye on. 

He explained that 2019 is going to be an important year of preparation, which is why the coaching staff and CSA are also looking to recruit more youngsters into the team environment. 

“If you look at the fixtures, we have a World Cup for three years in a row starting from the T20 World Cup next year in Australia, so we see this year as the year to prepare fully for the next three years. 

"We need to make sure that each and every player gets enough game time and that one of the main focuses for this year is getting comfortable playing the T20 skills because we know that we are still not as good as we want to be when it comes to that format. 

“We need to see how the youngsters go, you never know, there could be opportunities for one or two players that have been doing well in our system. 

"Players know that they are playing for their positions now and the only way to stay in the team is through performance. 

"This is why it has been very pleasing to see the attitudes and renewed focus in this camp so far, it bodes well for what we are trying to build towards." 

The Proteas national women’s camp squad is: 

Chloe Tryon (KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Ayabonga Khaka (Gauteng), Shabnim Ismail (Gauteng), Raisibe Ntozakhe (Gauteng), Andrie Steyn (Western Province), Masabata Klaas (North West), Trisha Chetty (Gauteng), Moseline Daniels (Boland), Robyn Searle (Gauteng), Tumi Sekhukhune (Easterns), Lara Goodall (Western Province), Faye Tunnicliffe (Boland), Tazmin Brits (North West), Zintle Mali (Border), Nadine de Klerk (Northerns), Nonkululeko Thabethe (Gauteng) 

African News Agency (ANA)

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