With Eng­land loom­ing, no rest for SA

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

AF­TER trounc­ing the op­po­si­tion by 10 wick­ets with 262 balls to spare, no­body would have be­grudged the Proteas women’s side tak­ing the rest of the day off.

It was a Sun­day, af­ter all, and the job had been con­vinc­ingly done. But in­stead of laz­ing around the ho­tel, catch­ing up with loved ones back home or sim­ply ab­sorb­ing the mag­ni­tude of their vic­tory, Dane van Niek­erk’s team got straight back down to busi­ness.

In fact, they called for an ex­tra prac­tise ses­sion im­me­di­ately af­ter the match was com­pleted. It was a star­tling sight, con­sid­er­ing it was the fastmedium bowlers who had called for the train­ing just mo­ments af­ter re­duc­ing the West Indies to 16/5 with an im­pres­sive dis­play of seam and swing bowl­ing.

“The girls asked to top up on some of the ar­eas they felt they fell short in,” Van Niek­erk, ex­plained. “We know that it’s still go­ing to be a tough tour­na­ment and we don’t want to be com­pla­cent at all. The most im­por­tant thing is to stay on top of our game and we know that it’s not go­ing to be like this in ev­ery match.

“We spoke about this be­fore we went out to bat – that we mustn’t get ahead of our­selves, we still have to face some tough com­pe­ti­tion, in­clud­ing Sri Lanka, who are look­ing good at the mo­ment.”

A vet­eran of 80 ODI’s, Van Niek­erk is cer­tainly ac­cu­rate in her as­sess­ment.

South Africa’s next op­po­nents are hosts Eng­land in Bris­tol to­mor­row. Even with­out the leg­endary Char­lotte Ed­wards, who now passes judge­ment from the com­men­tary box, the ladies in navy blue re­main one of the pow­er­houses of the women’s game.

The English have cer­tainly reigned supreme in ODI con­tests with the Proteas over the years – Van Niek­erk has only been on the vic­to­ri­ous side once in her ca­reer in seven at­tempts.

It is highly un­likely that Heather Knight’s side will “just miss the balls” in the way Van Niek­erk de­scribed the Windies’ fee­ble bat­ting ef­forts at Grace Road.

Eng­land’s bat­ting unit is among the strong­est in the com­pe­ti­tion, with Sarah Tay­lor, Knight, Natalie Sciver and Fran Wil­son form­ing a for­mi­da­ble mid­dle-or­der.

They will cer­tainly not en­ter the con­test with any form of com­pla­cency ei­ther. In­dia in­flicted a shock de­feat on them in the tour­na­ment opener last week, which seems to have gal­vanised the for­mer cham­pi­ons – since then they have swept aside Pak­istan and Sri Lanka.

How­ever, the English re­main vul­ner­a­ble at the top of their bat­ting or­der. Ty­lor was moved down to No 3 for the last game with Lau­ren Win­field called up to part­ner Tammy Beau­mont.

South Africa’s im­pres­sive new-ball at­tack con­sist­ing of Shab­nim Is­mail and Marizanne Kapp, will def­i­nitely view this as an op­por­tu­nity to make early in­roads in or­der to have a crack at Eng­land’s “Awe­some Four­some” with the ball still shiny and hard.

Van Niek­erk is cer­tainly back­ing her pace duo to get the job done.

“I looked at the (West Indies) dis­missals and the way the ball moved and any bat­ter in the world would prob­a­bly strug­gle,” Van Niek­erk said. “Shubby (Is­mail) was nip­ping them back, and (Kappi) was swing­ing the ball miles – we know when they are on song that is what hap­pens. They’re go­ing to trou­ble most of the best bat­ters in the world.”

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