Proteas women are one match away from his­tory

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

LONG be­fore women in this coun­try could even dream of pur­su­ing a pro­fes­sional cricket ca­reer, Daleen Terblanche led South Africa to a World Cup semi-fi­nal.

In 2000 Terblanche’s Proteas en­joyed a dream run that in­cluded a vic­tory over pow­er­house Eng­land in the group stages to set up a date with Aus­tralia in Lin­coln on New Zealand’s South Is­land.

Al­though the Aussies proved too strong for the Proteas, it re­mained South Africa’s only ap­pear­ance in an ICC Women’s World Cup semi-fi­nal un­til Dane van Niek­erk led her to team to the promised land in the on-go­ing 11th edi­tion in Eng­land.

“It was a big thing back then. A big event,” Terblanche, who dou­bled up as a teacher when she wasn’t on the cricket field, told In­de­pen­dent Me­dia.

“We were a group of part-timers, not like the girls of to­day, and it was only the sec­ond time South Africa were play­ing in a World Cup. We had done re­ally well to beat Eng­land to get to the semi-fi­nals but then we came up against the Aussies. They were on a dif­fer­ent level. They were play­ing the game longer than us at the high­est level and had more time to train, es­pe­cially on is­sues like fit­ness and field­ing. Lisa Keight­ley played very well on the day.”

There has been a ma­jor shift in the ap­proach to the women’s game since those days with Van Niek­erk, and her team able to fo­cus squarely on de­feat­ing the tour­na­ment hosts to­day in the first semi-fi­nal due to the ma­jor­ity of her team not only em­ployed by Cricket South Africa, but also con­tracted to var­i­ous Big Bash Women’s teams in Aus­tralia and the Women’s Cricket League in Eng­land.

That doesn’t make South Africa’s task any eas­ier though, with Eng­land re­main­ing one of the torch­bear­ers of women’s cricket. Heather Knight’s side pun­ished the Proteas’ much-vaunted bowl­ing unit in the round-robin fix­ture with Sarah Tay­lor and Tammy Beau­mont both smash­ing cen­turies. “Yeah, it would have been great to just play cricket. I played with re­ally tal­ented girls like Sunette Viljoen (South Africa’s Olympic javelin sil­ver medal­list) and Johmari Logten­berg but they were forced to stop play­ing. It’s won­der­ful for Dane, Mignon and the rest of the girls now. “I played a lit­tle bit with Mignon to­wards the end of my ca­reer but Dane was still in school. They’ve got a great op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing re­ally spe­cial. The English are a real tough nut to crack. We saw in the group game how pow­er­ful their bat­ting is, but I think we do have the bowlers to curb them. We just need to field prop­erly. You can’t af­ford to drop catches and let the ball through in big games like this.”

Will Terblanche though be spurring the Proteas on from all the way back home in South Africa?

“School has un­for­tu­nately started again, so I’ll be in front of a class, but I’ll try to catch some of the game later in the day,” she lamented.

It seems then that Van Niek­erk and her team don’t only carry their own hopes when they step out on the field in Bris­tol to­day. They have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to all the women who self­lessly worked the trenches for them to reap the re­wards the women’s game now has to of­fer.

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