Home Sport Cricket Heartache fuels Proteas ahead of Women’s World Cup semi-final

Heartache fuels Proteas ahead of Women’s World Cup semi-final

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Dané Van Niekerk and her Proteas teammates were left in tears following their defeat in the 2017 Women’s World Cup against England. Picture: Jason Cairnduff, Action Images via Reuters

The pain experienced on that fateful Madiba Day will be the motivating factor for the Proteas Women’s team, who are aiming rewrite history at the Women’s World Cup.

Cape Town – Five years ago, the Proteas Women’s team lay crestfallen on the Bristol outfield.

The emotions were in overdrive with tears flowing freely down the cheeks of everyone.

They were inconsolable after putting their heart and soul into a contest, only to be knocked out by the barest of margins.

It is the pain experienced on that fateful Madiba Day that will be the motivating factor for the Proteas Women’s team, who are aiming rewrite history tomorrow (3am SA time) when they face off against England in a repeat of the 2017 World Cup semi-final, according to coach Hilton Moreeng.

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“They know how they felt on that day. Most of them that were there are here today. It was Madiba Day. It was Ayabonga Khaka’s birthday.

It is one of those things where we learnt a lot of lessons of ourselves collectively. It was tough on the players. It was tough on the fans. It was one of those things that broke a sporting nation down,” Moreeng said from the team’s base in Christchurch yesterday.

“Hopefully we can respond better now that we have learnt a few things. We know the magnitude of who we playing against. They are the defending champions.

“I think what has been working for us in this World Cup is that we have focused on what we can do.

“How am I going to motivate them? I don’t think the players need that. Each and everyone are already motivated.”

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Although the personnel is largely the same – with only injured captain Dané van Niekerk and seam bowler Moseline Daniels missing from the Bristol XI – Moreeng has witnessed an exponential amount of emotional growth in each individual since the last World Cup.

He believes this could potentially be the difference between agony and ecstasy at the Hagley Oval.

“The team has been put under pressure by different teams at different times. Most of the players have now though been in those situations before, and you needed calm heads, which they responded to and showed the calmness. The calmness has been very good,” Moreeng said.

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“When you work with cricketers, you are trying to make them independent thinkers, where they don’t depend on you. “Cricket is a decision-making game, and under pressure, it’s even worse.

“And that has been working well for us as a team. The journey with this team is that they understand what is required. If you look at how they’ve grown over the last two/three years, and the maturity and experience has come to the fore, to help make the right decisions.” There’s no doubt South Africa will have their hands full.

As Moreeng rightfully stated, England are still the defending world champions, and after a lean start to the competition, they are now striding into peak form with four consecutive victories.

They have superb batting and bowling combinations, with two batters (Nat Sciver and Tammy Beaumont) and two bowlers (Sophie Ecclestone and Charlotte Dean) in the top 10 of the tournament run-scorers and wicket-takers.

South Africa will, though, take confidence from the fact that they match them in both departments through Laura Wolvaardt (one) and Sune Luus (10) in the batting and Shabnim Ismail (two) and Khaka (five) in the bowling.

Equally, they have survived a series of precarious positions in matches they have won, while they have also already defeated England in the league match at Mount Maunganui.

Moreeng doesn’t think having played their last game against India at Hagley Oval and being based in Christchurch for the past week gives them an advantage, with England showing they can adapt by winning their matches across both the North and South Islands.

Judging by how this tournament has transpired and the recent sequence of matches between these two rivals, it’s all set for another rip-roaring thriller that will once again be decided by the slightest of margins.

LIKELY PROTEAS TEAM

Lizelle Lee, Laura Woolvardt, Lara Goodall, Suné Luus (capt), Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Chloe Tryon, Trisha Chetty, Shabnim Ismail, Masabata Klaas, Ayabonga Khaka.

@ZaahierAdams

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