Home Sport Danes Proteas have a good shot at upsetting England

Danes Proteas have a good shot at upsetting England

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Ladies have the chance to do something really special

Proteas women skipper Dane van Niekerk Van Niekerk and her team are able to focus squarely on defeating the tournament hosts today in the first semi-final. PICTURE: REUTERS

LONG before women in this country could even dream of pursuing a professional cricket career, Daleen Terblanche led South Africa to a World Cup semi-final.

It was all of 17 years ago, way back in 2000, when Terblanche’s Proteas enjoyed a dream run that included a victory over powerhouse England in the group stages to set up a date with Australia in Lincoln on New Zealand’s South Island. Although the Aussies proved too strong for the Proteas on the day, it was still a monumental achievement for it remained South Africa’s only ever appearance in an ICC Women’s World Cup semi-final until Dane van Niekerk led her to team to the promised land in the on-going 11th edition in England.

“It was a big thing back then. A big event,” Terblanche, who doubled up a teacher when she wasn’t on the cricket field, told Independent Media.

“We were a group of part-timers, not like the girls of today, and it was only the second time South Africa were playing in a World Cup. We had done really well to beat England to get to the semi-finals but then we came up against the Aussies. They were on a different level. They were playing the game longer than us at the highest level and had more time to train, especially on issues like fitness and fielding. Lisa Keightley played very well on the day.”

There has been a major shift in the approach to the women’s game since those days with Van Niekerk (pictured) and her team able to focus squarely on defeating the tournament hosts today in the first semi-final due the majority of her team not only employed by Cricket South Africa, but also contracted to various Big Bash Women’s teams in Australia and the Women’s Cricket League in England.

That doesn’t make South Africa’s task any easier though with England remaining one of torchbearers of women’s cricket. Heather Knight’s side punished the Proteas’ much-vaunted bowling unit in the round-robin fixture with Sarah Taylor and Tammy Beaumont both smashing centuries.

“Yeah, it would have been great to just to play cricket. I played with really talented girls like Sunette Viljoen (South Africa’s Olympic javelin silver medallist) and Johmari Logtenberg but they were forced to stop playing. It’s wonderful for Dane, Mignon and the rest of the girls now.

“I played a little bit with Mignon towards the end of my career but Dane was still in school. They’ve got a great opportunity to do something really special. The English are a real tough nut to crack. We saw in the group game how powerful their batting is, but I think we do have the bowlers to curb them. We just need to field properly. You can’t afford to drop catches and let the ball through in big games like this.”

SQUADS FOR BRISTOL

England: Heather Knight (captain), Tamsin Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Beth Langston, Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield and Danielle Wyatt

South Africa: Dane van Niekerk (captain), Trisha Chetty. Moseline Daniels, Nadine de Klerk, Mignon du Preez, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Odine Kirsten, Masabata Klaas, Lizelle Lee, Sune Luus, Raisibe Ntozakhe, Chloe Tryon and Laura Wolvaardt