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The resilience of South Africa’s women shines through these magnificent Proteas

Published Mar 30, 2022


Cape Town - Let’s be honest: living – or should that be surviving – in South Africa in its current state is a tough gig.

SA is still in a “state of disaster” – two years after president Cyril Ramaphosa imposed the legislation in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The economy is at an all-time low, while unemployment levels and the price of petrol is at an all-time high. Eish!

But yet we get up every morning and get into our cars, take the bus, taxi and train – if they have enough fuel in them and are running on time – and make our way to our jobs … those that are lucky enough to have them, because that’s what we do.

We are South Africans, and it’s in our DNA to get on with the job. And that’s exactly what the Proteas women’s cricket team have done at the World Cup in New Zealand.

They are a multi-talented team filled with superstars, but the loss of their captain Dane van Niekerk to a freak injury that ruled her out on the eve of the tournament was a massive blow.

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Van Niekerk is not only a worldclass No 3 batter and leg-spinner, but the heartbeat of the team.

Did the Proteas sit around and sulk? No, they found a way to work around it, with Sune Luus quietly stepping in and taking over the leadership reins in her own subtle manner.

A further setback was the absence of ICC ODI Player of the Year Lizelle Lee for the first game against Bangladesh. Was it a train smash? Not at all.

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Laura Wolvaardt has simply taken over the mantle of the team’s premier run-scorer since Lee has not been her dynamic self upon her eventual return to the side.

I’ve said it before: It is just the way of this team. Help someone up when she is down. Come back and bowl an inspired spell of 2/17 in eight overs after conceding 25 runs in the first two.

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Win three games in the last over when the pressure is at boiling point. Put in two player-of-the-match performances despite suffering from a chronic heart condition.

Former Proteas men’s all-rounder Robin Peterson tweeted after the sensational last-ball victory over India on Sunday: “South African women are built differently - and I don’t just mean cricket. Well done @OfficialCSA ladies team on believing until the end.”

It was a tweet that would have been appreciated by Luus and her team, but more importantly by every SA woman, for they truly are the bedrock of this country as they confront their daily battles in overcoming gender-based violence and prejudice.

It is for this reason that Luus, Wolvaardt, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka and all the others are fully aware that tomorrow’s semi-final against England is not just about avenging their gut-wrenching 2017 semi-final in Bristol.

They are playing for a far bigger cause. It is about providing hope to the gogos fetching water at wells in rural areas.

For the single mothers and primary breadwinners providing for their children.

And for all the young girls hoping to follow in their footsteps one day.

And in the true SA spirit, I know they will succeed …