JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s women’s team is in India at the moment, and to say it’s not going well would be an understatement.
The six-match T20 International series ended 3-1 in the home team’s favour. The first ODI on Wednesday went India’s way too, by eight wickets.
In the last two years, the Proteas Women have played 21 ODIs. They’ve won 12, and at face value that winning record is a good one. But five of those wins came against Bangladesh.
Against England, India, West Indies and Pakistan, the Proteas have won once each.
It's been more than two years since the team’s magical run to the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup and there seems to have been no improvement in the standard of the side’s play since.
Going into that tournament, Dane van Niekerk’s side were regarded by many rivals and commentators as being dark horses for the tournament.
That tag seemed to suit them and they played very well to reach the semi-final where they suffered an agonising loss to eventual champions England.
Reaching the final four in 2017 was rightly celebrated.
It was a great achievement for a team that had only started getting properly resourced in the two years leading up to the tournament and for the players who’d put in the hard yards in that same period.
No longer was Mignon du Preez the only female cricketer anyone could name from the side and in Laura Wolvaardt, a genuine young star emerged.
But what has happened since? The team has stagnated, the same problems keep repeating themselves over and over again.
If Lizelle Lee doesn’t make runs at the top of the order - and quickly - the rest of the batting order tends to crumble.
Van Niekerk, who is not in India because of injury, is the only one who consistently is able to increase the scoring rate, while Marizanne Kapp is the other world class performer, who produces her best on a consistent basis.
Otherwise there’s a sameness about South Africa’s performances.
The fielding hasn’t improved since 2017, and the bowling - outside of Kapp - is terribly inconsistent.
There are 15 months to go before the next 50-over World Cup in New Zealand and Cricket South Africa needs to ask itself whether it’s time for a change to the coaching staff of the women’s team.
Hilton Moreeng has been the team’s head coach for nearly seven years.
He’s an affable man, and no-one can deny the transformation he’s helped engender in that team, but given the results and, more importantly, the way the team is playing, questions about his ability to make the team better have to be asked.
From the outside, the team looks like one in need of a change.
Whose responsibility that is, only Cricket SA will determine.
Presumably it will be the job of the Director of Cricket, who Cricket SA chief executive Thabang Moroe hopes will be in position by the end of the month.
What is clear, though, is that the South African women’s team has not got better since 2017 and if the decline continues in this way, they risk being also-rans at the next 50-over World Cup.