Van Niek­erk ex­pect­ing tough Windies chal­lenge

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PROTEAS Women cap­tain Dané van Niek­erk (pic­tured) be­lieves the West Indies tour will pro­vide the per­fect op­por­tu­nity for se­nior play­ers to show­case their ex­pe­ri­ence in con­di­tions un­known to the ma­jor­ity of the team.

South Africa’s last tour to the Caribbean re­gion was in 2012 and only four play­ers re­main from that squad.

The tour will com­prise a three­match ICC Women’s Cham­pi­onship (IWC) One-Day In­ter­na­tional and five-match T20 se­ries. It will play a big role in the tourists’ plans to se­cure points to­wards di­rect qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand as well as so­lid­ify prepa­ra­tion for the first ever stand-alone ICC Women’s World T20, also in the West Indies, in Novem­ber.

“I think this is go­ing to be a tough and chal­leng­ing tour,” Van Niek­erk said.

“It’s lo­cated in ab­so­lute par­adise of course, you won’t get to see more beau­ti­ful places when on a cricket tour, but when it comes down to the busi­ness of cricket, the West Indies will test the ath­lete in you like very few places will.”

The se­niors Van Niek­erk refers to are vice-cap­tain Chloe Tryon, Mignon du Preez and Marizanne Kapp, while she be­lieves the knowl­edge­able minds of Lizelle Lee, Masabata Klaas and Suné Luus will also play a big role in ral­ly­ing up the pre­dom­i­nantly young team.

“I’m go­ing to look to them to help lead the young­sters and pro­vide guid­ance in the chang­e­room,” Van Niek­erk con­tin­ued. “We have four play­ers who have toured here and an­other hand­ful of se­nior play­ers who have played all over the world and know what it’s like to adapt to dif­fi­cult con­di­tions. “We have been blessed with an ex­cit­ing group of young­sters who are sali­vat­ing at just the thought of get­ting started and we need to bot­tle that en­ergy and dis­trib­ute it wisely.”

The Proteas boast four grad­u­ates from the South African Emerg­ing team whose per­for­mances in the last sea­son made com­pelling ar­gu­ments for se­lec­tion. Saarah Smith, Tumi Sekhukhune, Robyn Searle and Faye Tun­ni­cliffe are all ex­cit­ing prospects for Van Niek­erk.

“It’s re­ally en­cour­ag­ing to see how much tal­ent has come up in the last few years and that the

CSA pipe­line is de­vel­op­ing some qual­ity play­ers,” she elab­o­rated.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing what these girls do and the fact that each of­fers some­thing dif­fer­ent and unique to the team’s needs is even bet­ter.

“That, mixed with other young tal­ent that we al­ready have in Laura Wolvaardt, Ri­ais­ibe Ntoza­khe and Zintle Mali, is the stuff cap­tains’ dreams are made of.

“It’s go­ing to be a good headache for se­lec­tors when it comes to pick­ing teams.”

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