Former skipper Van Niekerk could return to Proteas team

CSA director of cricket Enoch Nkwe. | BackpagePix

CSA director of cricket Enoch Nkwe. | BackpagePix

Published Jul 8, 2024


Zaahier Adams

Cricket South Africa (CSA) director of cricket Enoch Nkwe has opened the door for former Proteas Women’s captain Dane van Niekerk to make a possible return to international cricket.

Van Niekerk, 31, retired from international cricket last year after sensationally having been left out of the Proteas’ T20 World Cup squad on fitness grounds. But the leg-spinning all-rounder has signed a deal with Western Province, joining her wife and star Proteas all-rounder Marizanne Kapp at Newlands for the 2024/25 domestic season.

Dane van Niekerk. | BackpagePix

Nkwe recently met Van Niekerk in India where the Proteas Women’s team is currently involved in an all-format tour. Van Niekerk is part of the TV commentary team.

“I actually bumped into Dane whilst I was in India, and she admitted that does miss the space,” Nkwe said, at the CSA head office.

“We all know her immense talent and that she has so much to offer South African cricket. We will, as a system down at Western Province, provide her with the necessary support.

“She knows what is required to get back into the team. But at the end of the day, she misses the space.”

The Proteas Women’s team could certainly benefit from both Van Niekerk’s experience and skill after a number of high-profile retirements over the past two years. Long-serving coach Hilton Moreeng has also taken on a new role with US Cricket, which has potentially ushered in a new era for the Proteas Women’s team.

The results have certainly not been forthcoming this year with the Proteas having lost a three-format series – T20, ODI and Test – against Australia, though the Proteas did achieve their first victories over the world champions in the T20 and ODI formats.

The home summer was not much better with Sri Lanka claiming a first ODI series victory over the Proteas while the T20 series was also shared. All these results were achieved under Moreeng’s guidance before he left for the US.

An interim coaching staff led by bowling coach Dillon du Preez has taken the side to India, where the Proteas suffered a 3-0 clean sweep in the ODI series and lost the Test by 10 wickets.

They, however, bounced back to win the first T20. With the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup just a few months away in Bangladesh, Nkwe is not too fazed about the results at the moment.

“They are going through a transition. They have also been hit with a few injuries,” Nkwe said.

“Having professionalised the women’s game recently, we are hoping that this will increase the number of players coming through to compete at a national level. But at the same time, we are still teaching the players what it actually means to be a professional cricketer.

“At this stage I am not too concerned about the results, it’s more about the performances. I was with the team in India during the Test match. Just the way they went about their business, in tough conditions in Chennai, (on the) red soil (was impressive).

“The way the batters took on the responsibility, taking the game to the last session on day four. Obviously, from the bowlers’ side (there’s work to do), but I have no doubt they will improve.”

Nkwe said that a decision is yet to be made on the appointment of Moreeng’s long-term successor.

“That was part of why I was India. We want to make sure before the World Cup, because it’s easy to appoint someone in a rush, but the team is in a different space,” Moreeng said.

“We need to make sure that the person who is going to take the team forward for the next two or three years, that person fits the character of the team and the transition expected in 2025.”

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