Van Niekerk’s side boast most potent seam bowling duo in women’s game
DANé VAN NIEKERK will have one of those “good headaches” when she juggles what many believe is the most potent bowling attack at this year’s Women’s Cricket World Cup.
The South African team touched down in London this morning and headed to the east midlands town of Oakham (near Leicester) where they will play a warm-up game against Australia on Tuesday.
Van Niekerk explained ahead of the side’s departure this week that the warm-ups – they also play West Indies on Thursday – will provide a chance to get the competitive juices flowing and tweak a few game plans ahead of their tournament opener against Pakistan next Sunday.
Key to South Africa’s strategy at the competition will be a bowling unit that has many of the Proteas’ rivals believing Van Niekerk’s team is capable of making the final four at the tournament.
“I’m spoiled for choice. I’ve got eight different bowlers, which is awesome,” Van Niekerk smiled. Among those are the most potent seam bowling duo in the women’s game; Marizanne Kapp, the world’s No 1 bowler and Shabnim Ismail, the quickest bowler in the world, who is currently ranked 10 by the ICC.
In addition there’s Van Niekerk and Sune Luus’ leg-spin, Ayabonga Khaka’s outswing, Moseline Daniels medium pace, young Raisibe Ntozakhe’s offspin and recently Chloe Tryon’s been able to add her left-arm seamers to the equation after a period out with an ankle injury.
“I’ve got the best opening attack at my disposal and then followed by Ayabonga Khaka and she can do the job as well. The nice thing is, if it’s not someone’s day, I can rely on someone else too.”
Van Niekerk admits that so much variety is vital especially in the modern game where keeping batsmen off their rhythm is important – with pitches that are so placid.
“We’ll definitely adopt a ‘horses-for-courses’ approach,” explained Van Niekerk. “The game has grown so much, there’s no longer that traditional thing that ‘you’re opening, you’re first change,’ …If I feel I want to bowl a spinner in the power play that’s the way it’s going to be.”
The team’s coach Hilton Moreeng stressed the importance of summing up conditions and utilising the right players and implementing the correct strategies for the team to achieve success. “We have to make sure we put the puzzle together because on the day we are good enough as a unit,” he said.
The team has kept a close eye on the Champions Trophy to get an understanding of how the pitches in England may play. “One day it’s a great wicket, the next it’s slow and spinning, for us it’s about assessing conditions and adapting,” said Van Niekerk. “We’ve seen that squarer the field’s are big and straighter the boundaries are shorter, those are small things, but it’s stuff we must be aware of.”
FAST-BOWLING THREAT: Marizanne Kapp, left, and Shabnim Ismail will spearhead the Proteas attack.