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More youngsters in Proteas squad no excuse for series loss says De Klerk

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More than anything, the series defeat to Sri Lanka has further highlighted the Proteas’ existing loopholes in the shortest format of the game.

South Africa’s Nadine De Klerk. File Picture: Marco Longari, AFP

Ongama Gcwabe

THE PROTEAS Women have gone through the entire summer without a T20 series victory despite having played against five teams – two away from home in Pakistan and Australia, and three at home against New Zealand, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Most recently, Sri Lanka, led by Chamari Athapaththu, got the better of Laura Wolvaardt’s Proteas as they came back from 1-0 down in the three-match series to eventually win it 2-1, recording their first series victory over South Africa.

They beat South Africa by seven wickets in the second T20 in Benoni last week, before going on to inflict a series-winning four-wicket victory in East London on Wednesday night.

During the course of the season, coach Hilton Moreeng – with his one-season contract extension – has moved on from batter Lara Goodall after a lean patch.

The long-serving coach has also looked past wicketkeeper Mieke de Ridder as Sinalo Jafta’s replacement, and opted for the 16-year-old Karabo Meso.

Moreover, debuts have been awarded to young bowlers Eliz-Mari Marx and Ayanda Hlubi in the T20 set-up.

Despite all the changes made to the team this season, all-rounder Nadine de Klerk – who produced an excellent performance on Wednesday with 44 not out off 25 balls and 2/25 off four overs – is adamant that this is no cause for distress.

“I won’t really say it’s a concern. They (selectors) obviously have their eyes on whoever they feel is their best 11,” De Klerk told the media.

“This was a great opportunity to give the chance to some of our younger players who have performed really well domestically and see how we can kind of manage the depth of our squad, and how we can improve that with the players coming through the pipelines, which I guess is a really important time as well.

“Everybody is getting older in the side, and you’re not always going to have the same 11 because injuries are part of the game – and so are illnesses.

“At the World Cup, one of your stars might not be available to play, and you will need some of the younger ones to step up.

“It’s really important that we take these opportunities and learn from it. Like I said, it’s not an excuse for the performances we’ve put on board, but it’s really exciting to see some of the younger players as well.”

More than anything, the series defeat to Sri Lanka has further highlighted the Proteas’ existing loopholes in the shortest format of the game.

It is these issues that cause panic both in the camp and around the country leading up to the World Cup, which is set to take place in Bangladesh later this year.

De Klerk told the media that they were simply outplayed by Athapaththu’s troops in the series.

“We expected a lot more of ourselves, and we just didn’t play the cricket that we wanted. We weren’t up to standard, and have to give credit to Sri Lanka as well. They had put us under pressure, and we’re really disappointed,” said De Klerk. “We’ve played around a bit to see who’s the best fit going into the World Cup. I definitely think you do want a bit of momentum, and you don’t want to go to a World Cup having really struggled.

“I really hope that we can take a lot of learnings and positives from these couple of games, and keep finding ways as to how we can bounce back and try and win games of cricket, especially in the T20 format.

“We have to take our opportunities and have to stop the runs, because big players will hurt you.”

The focus now shifts to the final leg of the Sri Lanka tour, the three-match ODI series, which is set to get under way in East London next Tuesday.

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