Lara Goodall is a talented batter but found there was a ’disconnect’ between how she performed at provincial level and what she was producing for the Proteas.
JOHANNESBURG – Sunday’s thumping win against India provided an illustration of South Africa’s depth in talent, the patience shown with players, and the clear thinking present in the national women’s team, making Lara Goodall feel that she owed it to the national coaches and her Proteas teammates to put in a good performance.
Goodall, over the course of an international career that is now in its fifth year, has failed to live up to expectations.
She is clearly a very talented batter, but as she put it on Sunday, found there was a “disconnect” between how she performed at provincial level and even in the nets when part of the Proteas squad, and what was produced on the field.
On Sunday, Goodall played a starring role as South Africa defeated India by seven wickets to wrap up the one-day international series with a match to spare.
The 24 year-old-left hand batter notched up a career best 59 not out, sharing a critical century stand for the third wicket with Mignon du Preez, and displaying some of that natural talent to propel the Proteas to a crucial series victory.
The win came with SA missing some senior players – captain Dané van Niekerk and Chloe Tryon, who couldn’t tour because of injury, and Suné Luus, who was captaining the side in Van Niekerk’s absence but then missed the third and fourth ODIs with an injury as well.
Goodall knew that with those players unavailable it provided her with an opportunity to make a strong claim for a spot in the squad for next year’s 50-over World Cup in New Zealand.
“My teammates have always believed in me and I haven’t always repaid that faith out on the field. They have seen what I am capable of, in provincial cricket and at nets, but there was always some kind of disconnect to what happened on the field,” Goodall said.
It was the same for Proteas coach Hilton Moreeng, who has backed Goodall, privately and publicly, and saw some compensation for that support on Sunday.
“This one was for him,” said Goodall.
It was the Covid19-induced lockdown last year that provided Goodall with an opportunity for self-reflection.
“During the lockdown period I looked at myself very, very hard, and came back to international cricket with a different approach, and now that I am back in the team, I don’t ever want to be back in the provincial structures for the whole season; I want to be playing for the Proteas, with the World Cup in mind next year,” she said.
The change in Goodall was less technical and more mental, a shift that demanded believing in herself more and thus being able to execute the shots she needed to at the time they were required.
“Two years ago in India, I wasn’t sure about my game, how to play spin, and what my options were; I didn’t really back (my plans) so it was always half-hearted approaches,” Goodall said.
With continued backing from Moreeng and hard work at Cricket SA’s high performance centre in Pretoria under the watchful eye of Women’s National Academy head Dinesha Devnarain, Goodall “took a different approach mentally”.
“I’ve always had the shots, the ability to bat, but my mentality is where I had to make that shift. I needed to improve a lot to become a mainstay in this Proteas line-up. There is a slot open in that middle order which I want to make mine,” Goodall said.
That competition for spots, and the backing given to players like Goodall, also indicates how well the Proteas have developed in the last five years, which is a credit to CSA and Moreeng in particular, who was under pressure in his job three years ago.