THERE will be many twists and turns, highs and lows, ebbs and flows on the way to the next T20 World Cup. That is the tournament on home soil in 2023 which the Proteas Women’s team have designated as their date with destiny.
South African cricket teams don’t have a particularly good record in ICC tournaments staged in Mzansi. The Proteas Men’s team have failed to advance to the knockout stages of the 2003 World Cup, 2007 T20 World Cup and 2009 Champions Trophy, while the SA Under-19s were also eliminated in the group stages of their World Cup just last year, although they at least reached the semi-finals back in 1998.
This record is not confined to Men’s cricket. The Proteas Women’s side finished a lowly seventh when the 50-overs World Cup was last held here in 2005.
But this Proteas Women’s management team have promised that this time it is different, this time they mean business, this time they will not be wall flowers at their own house party.
As was witnessed at last year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, this group of women crave the big stage. Instead of standing against the railings, they embrace the spotlight.
In Australia, they played with a zest rarely seen among their predecessors. But they are also work in progress, now discovering that flair and freshness are not in themselves quite sufficient.
They may boast a group of superstars that are highly-courted by T20 franchise scouts around the world, but they understand the necessity to grow the depth surrounding the likes of Shabnim Ismail, Laura Wolvaardt, Dane van Niekerk, Chloe Tryon, Marizanne Kapp, Lizelle Lee, Sune Luus, Mignon du Preez, Ayabonga Khaka and Co.
And that it can only be achieved through exposure to the highest level.
Covid-19 has severely impacted on the opportunity to accomplish this due to the postponement of tours, but they are at least back on the field now against Pakistan.
It is for this reason that the three-match T20 series, starting in Durban today, is virtually the beginning of the road to 2023. Coach Hilton Moreeng certainly views it this way.
“We know we need game time and competitive cricket. We have discussed this with our operation office and they are working around the clock to get us enough competitive cricket. It is the only way we can be prepared for when the World Cup does happen,” Moreeng said.
“We would love to blend in a few youngsters to look ahead to the World Cup. It gives us enough time because whoever you start blending in now has enough time to find their feet and be able to play. It will be good to see how they go because the series against Pakistan will be very competitive as the shorter formats always bring teams closer together.”
During the recently-completed ODI series which South Africa won convincingly 3-0, Moreeng had a closer look at fringe players such as Lara Goodall, Tazmin Brits and Anne Bosch.
Although the desired performances were not always forthcoming, they would be better served now that the nerves of playing international cricket have settled. It is likely the trio, along with promising Western Province wicketkeeper/batter Sinalo Jafta, will get a run again over the course of the next three T20Is.
Proteas Women’s T20 squad for Pakistan series: Sune Luus (captain), Laura Wolvaardt, Trisha Chetty (wk), Mignon du Preez, Shabnim Ismail, Lizelle Lee, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Nadine de Klerk, Tumi Sekhukhune, Sinalo Jafta (wk), Marizanne Kapp, Lara Goodall, Nondumiso Shangase, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Faye Tunnicliffe, Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits.