Proteas are eager to make history
THE PROTEAS women’s team have played some big matches in their history. A World T20 semifinal in the steaming metropolis of Dhaka a few years back and there have also been a couple of World Cup semi-finals in India (2000) and Bristol (2017).
Today in Canterbury, the stakes are appreciably different though in the Proteas’ most significant match since last year’s World Cup. Dane van Niekerk’s team have a chance to create history by becoming the first SA women’s team to win an ODI series in England.
The Proteas have the arsenal to tear up the record books. The bowling unit, particularly the pace trio of Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp and Ayabonga Khaka, are among the most feared in the world game. They are also experienced enough to have learnt from their Brighton faults, and will be eager to come back and prove their class.
The leg-spin – such a potent weapon at last year’s World Cup in similar conditions – of Van Niekerk and Sune Luus has been under-utilised during the series thus far and it may now just be the right time to unleash their wizardry.
Equally, SA’s batting is vastly improved. Led by the powerful Lizelle Lee upfront and the new dynamism of Van Niekerk and Chloe Tryon in the middle-order, SA look a much more balanced outfit. Big matches are for big players too, and Laura Wolvaardt can certainly be classed as the latter. After a quiet series thus far, the teenager from Parklands may just explode into action at Canterbury.
The only challenge that remains is whether this group of players can handle the pressure that comes with a “must-win” match, knowing the greater rewards at stake.
“I think we are. Looking back a few years ago, you wouldn’t see the team bat the way they are now. I have never seen so much confidence. We are here to play. We have nothing to lose. We have a special bunch of girls. We want to win the series. We must just go out there and play,” said all-rounder Tryron.
“I feel this team is playing fearless cricket. It is just growth of the women’s cricket in the country, the girls are growing.”