No ex­cuse for se­nior’s col­lapse

Van Niekerk knows mid­dle-or­der can ill af­ford another fail­ure

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

SOUTH Africa cap­tain Dane van Niekerk, pic­tured, has called on the se­nior play­ers in her team to step up if the Proteas are to have a successful ICC Women’s World Cup cam­paign.

Al­though Van Niekerk’s side even­tu­ally crossed the line by three wick­ets against Pak­istan in Sun­day’s opener at Grace Road, there is no doubt there were ad­mit­tedly sweaty palms in the dress­in­groom when the Proteas lost seven wick­ets for 64 runs in pur­suit of Pak­istan’s 204/8.

Open­ers Laura Wolvaardt and Lizelle Lee had ap­peared to set up the game per­fectly for the mid­dle-or­der with a cen­tury open­ing stand, only to see mat­ters un­ravel spec­tac­u­larly.

Van Niekerk and fel­low ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers like Marizanne Kapp, formed part of the malaise and the skip­per knows her team needs to cope with the pressure much bet­ter when they face a strong New Zealand out­fit in Derby on Wednes­day.

The White Ferns eased to a com­fort­able nine-wicket vic­tory over Sri Lanka, also in Derby, in their tour­na­ment opener.

“Credit to Pak­istan, they bowled re­ally well. They brought the game back,” Van Niekerk said. “The plat­form we had, you would think as a bowl­ing team they are dead and buried and you want to win a game con­vinc­ingly. They came back stronger and all credit to them.

“There is no ex­cuse for what hap­pened in the mid­dle or­der, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the fact there were just se­niors who were a part of that. We should know bet­ter and hope­fully we will rec­tify it in the games to come.”

Bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion when run­ning be­tween the wick­ets is def­i­nitely a good place to start with the Proteas women’s team repli­cat­ing the chaos their male coun­ter­parts in­flicted upon them­selves just a fort­night ago at the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy when they also man­u­fac­tured three need­less run outs.

“It’s re­ally straight for­ward run­ning be­tween the wick­ets, it’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

“No run is worth a wicket – we know that. It’s ba­sics and we lost track of that,” Van Niekerk ex­plained.

For all the chaos that en­veloped dur­ing the lat­ter part of South Africa’s in­nings, it does though seem the Proteas have dis­cov­ered a gem at the top of the or­der.

Open­ing bat­ter Wolvaardt is only 18-years-old and seems set for a long and distin­guished ca­reer.

The Park­lands Col­lege ma­tric­u­lant is al­ready South Africa’s youngest ever cen­tu­rion and her solid tech­nique, with a pen­chant for get­ting on the front foot to drive through the cov­ers and square of the wicket, sug­gests she could be one of the stars of this Women’s World Cup. “She’s amazing. She’s 18, but she has the head of a 30-yearold. She just wants to bat and her youth comes through when she bats so freely,” en­thused Van Niekerk.

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