Home Sport Cricket Proteas not putting pressure on themselves at World Cup says skipper

Proteas not putting pressure on themselves at World Cup says skipper

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Proteas captain Sune Luus plays a shot during the 2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup match against New Zealand. Photo: Michael Bradley/AFP

For a while now it has been clear that the Proteas Women’s team are on to something. On a balmy Thursday evening in Hamilton, they confirmed it with their first ever World Cup victory over hosts New Zealand.

Cape Town – For a while now it has been clear that the Proteas Women’s team are on to something. On a balmy Thursday evening in Hamilton, they confirmed it with their first ever World Cup victory over hosts New Zealand.

There will no doubt be many more nerve-tingling moments while on this roller-coaster ride as they seem to enjoy taking everyone on each and every game, but they have now beaten the current world champions England and former trophy holders New Zealand in successive matches.

That is a fact that simply cannot be passed over. Even more so when considering they are still not playing near their full potential, which seems to be the focus of everyone’s attention.

It wasn’t “the perfect game” against the White Ferns – a tense two-wicket victory with three balls remaining never is.

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But they are winning, four on the bounce now, and more importantly crossing the line in crunch moments, which is filling this team with the self-belief that they cannot lose.

And that is far more important than Lizelle Lee, Tazmin Brits and Mignon du Preez not scoring runs at this stage. They will find their form, of that there is no doubt, particularly Lee who showed glimpses that she was rediscovering her mojo before foolishly attempting a third run.

And if they do indeed continue to struggle then Laura Wolvaardt (67) and captain Sune Luus (51) will just grow bigger shoulders to carry the load, while that awesome bowling trio of Shabnim Ismail (3/27), Marizanne Kapp (2/44) and Ayabonga Khaka (3/31) will dig even deeper than they were forced to at Seddon Park when Masabata Klaas left the field midway through New Zealand’s innings leaving South Africa a bowler short.

It is just the way of this team. Help someone up when she is down. Bowl an inspired spell with a broken toe. Hit two boundaries in an over when the heat in the kitchen is at its most smouldering.

There was a moment mid-way through the New Zealand innings that exemplified the spirit within this group of players. The White Ferns had recovered from the early loss of Suzie Bates and were in the process of staging a sterling recovery through captain Sophie Devine (93) and Amelia Kerr (42).

For the first time SA looked rattled at this World Cup. Their bowling unit were under pressure as they were leaking runs at 7.4 per over.

Enter Luus. The captain is a reluctant bowler these days with her leg-spinners being more of a miss than a hit. Fortunately for SA, Kerr missed a straight full toss which sealed her fate.

The lion-hearted Kapp immediately pulled the team together and bellowed out some strong words of encouragement to her teammates in the huddle.

It had the desired effect with Khaka picking up another wicket the next over that raised the intensity, which was carried all the way through as New Zealand lost their last six wickets for just 30 runs to be bowled out for 228.

Kapp’s inspired chinwag had an almost bigger impact on the game than her delivering yet another superb all-round performance of 2/44 and 34 not out that ultimately proved the difference between the two teams.

“Marizanne has nerves of steel,” Luus beamed.

“She’s just saying, as all you know, how to stay calm and just how to back your own skill. She definitely takes it (the pressure) better than all of us could. She has a lot of experience. She’s obviously played all around the world in all these kinds of situations. I think she’s a very calm head, especially in situations like that.

“I think since we started this tournament, we haven’t really put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We were just here to play good cricket and showcase our talent. I don’t think we’re putting any pressure on ourselves for the next three games.

“Obviously it will be fantastic to get another couple of wins and secure a spot in the semi-finals, but I think for the coming games it won’t change. I think we’ll just be doing what we’ve been doing because I think it’s been working.”

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