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Proteas cannot afford to let their guard down

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“Most of our players have been there, they’ve played a lot of cricket against these teams. The difference is experience”

The Proteas Women’s team may have qualified for the ICC T20 World Cup semi-finals already, but coach Hilton Moreeng is wary of his team letting their “guard down.”

Moreeng’s frame of mind is understandable considering the Proteas still have a crucial group match against the West Indies today. A victory over the 2018 champions in Sydney will see the Proteas avoid Group A winners India, but will set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with hosts Australia.

The Australians were the last team to qualify for the knockout stages yesterday after a tense four-run victory over trans-Tasman neighbours New Zealand in a winner-takes-all clash.

“The West Indies are a dangerous side that have a couple of match-winners. You can’t let your guard down in T20 cricket. It’s not for us to get ahead of ourselves. Things happen so quickly. You can’t take chances in this game,” said Moreeng, without wanting to look ahead to the semi-final.

Instead, Moreeng preferred to focus on the way his team have conducted their business so far at the tournament. He believes the essential ingredient for the success the team has achieved is due to the group of players having been together for a long period of time.

Ten of the 11 members of the starting XI played in the 50-over World Cup semi-final defeat to England in Bristol three years ago. It was a pivotal tournament in the growth of women’s cricket in South Africa as it not only saw the status of the Proteas’ team rise, but it also allowed individuals to attract the attention of foreign T20 franchises.

The core of the Proteas team now plays all around the world in the Women’s Cricket Super League in England and also in Australia in the Women’s Big Bash League.

“Most of our players have been there, they’ve played a lot of cricket against these teams. The difference is experience,” said Moreeng.

The only dark cloud hovering over what has been an extremely bright campaign for the Proteas are concerns over star all-rounder Marizanne Kapp’s fitness. Kapp already missed the victory over Thailand with a leg injury, but was now more worryingly withdrawn from the Pakistan game due to her suffering heart palpitations.

“Her vitals spiked up very high and the doctor had to pull her out to manage that. She is under observation. We will take it one day at a time because when it comes to the heart you don’t want to take chances. The doctors and the medical team are working on that,” Moreeng said.

Proteas ICC Women’s T20 squad

Dané van Niekerk (c), Laura Wolvaardt, Lizelle Lee, Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Suné Luus, Chloe Tryon, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Tumi Sekhukhune, Trisha Chetty, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Nadine de Klerk, Nondumiso Shangase.