SA ready to beat the best

Fac­ing the world champs Aus­tralia is per­fect prepa­ra­tion for the semi-fi­nals

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

E who climbs Mount Fuji once is a wise man. He who climbs it twice is a fool.’ This is, of course, an old Ja­panese proverb re­lat­ing to the as­cent of the iconic 3 776 me­tre ac­tive vol­cano.

But that is vir­tu­ally the chal­lenge that awaits the Proteas women’s squad this week. The South Africans earned the right to cel­e­brate qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the ICC Women’s World Cup semi-fi­nal on Wed­nes­day. It was the first time the team has achieved this feat since 2000. They would have awo­ken with the sober­ing prospect that un­doubt­edly the big­gest seven days of their cricket ca­reers awaits them.

Even be­fore next week’s semi-fi­nal can be fo­cused upon, South Africa face up to de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia in their fi­nal round-robin match at Taun­ton.

Although the re­sult does not have any bear­ing for ei­ther team in re­gards to pro­gress­ing in the tour­na­ment, there is a far greater con­text and mean­ing to the con­test.

South Africa have not de­feated Aus­tralia in an ODI in 14 at­tempts, with the best-ever re­sult for the Proteas be­ing a tied-fix­ture. Vic­tory would thus un­doubt­edly raise the self-be­lief within the squad to even greater heights.

The damn­ing statis­tic, though, is not sim­ply a poor re­flec­tion on South Africa but in­stead high­lights the fact that the Aussies are un­doubt­edly the torch bear­ers of the stan­dards that women crick­eters around the world as­pire to.

Meg Lan­ning’s side are hunt­ing down a record sev­enth World Cup ti­tle in Eng­land. Although Lan­ning has been suf­fer­ing from a shoul­der in­jury through­out the tour­na­ment that is ham­per­ing her progress, she is still sec­ond on the over­all bat­ting charts with 328 runs – only two runs be­hind Eng­land’s Tammy Beau­mont – at the vastly su­pe­rior av­er­age of 109.33. The Aus­tralian cap­tain is not the only dan­ger though. Dy­namic all-rounder Ell­yse Perry is in a sim­i­lar rich vein of form with 311 runs at an av­er­age of 103.66.

It is no con­so­la­tion to South Africa that Perry has been even more ef­fec­tive against the Proteas, smash­ing 327 ODI runs across her five in­nings against South Africa at an at av­er­age of 163.5.

“I think a round of ap­plause needs to go our ladies first. We came here, no­body ex­pected any­thing from us, but we knew the qual­i­ties we had. We feel, where we are at right now, we’re start­ing to play good cricket. The girls are gelling nicely,” Proteas coach Hil­ton Kgosi­mang Moreeng said.

“Our first goal com­ing to Eng­land was to reach the knock­out phase, which we have done, and they de­serve ev­ery accolade that comes their way. “But we re­alise that if we want to be the best in the world, you need to start win­ning these games. They are the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons. They come with ev­ery­thing they have.”

In­stead of be­ing daunted by the chal­lenge that awaits his team and man­age­ment staff, Moreeng is ac­tu­ally ex­cited by the tim­ing of the con­test. He be­lieves the match will serve up an ideal op­por­tu­nity for the Proteas to fine-tune a few skills against qual­ity op­po­si­tion ahead of the semi-fi­nals stage.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.