Proteas captain Dané van Niekerk says the Proteas Women crave a victory against England in what is expected to be a tough tour abroad.
The Proteas face a three-match series against the side who broke their hearts in the World Cup semi-final. Van Niekerk admitted it was a tough pill to swallow, but she feels her side are thoroughly prepared to challenge the world champions.
‘We’re playing one of the best sides in the world, a challenging side and a very talented side, but having said that, we have a very talented side as well so it’s going to be a great matchup,’ she said.
‘They played really good cricket throughout the World Cup and they used their home ground advantage to the fullest. A goal we’ve set as a team is to beat England at home, it won’t be easy, but that’s what we’re here for.
‘I think the team that applies themselves the quickest and the best will come out on top. Hopefully, with all the plans we’ve made, that will be us.’
The Proteas, who arrived in England on Monday, have been hard at work adapting to the English conditions. They played a warm-up match against the England Women’s Academy, losing by four wickets but Van Niekerk believes that the match showed the team which areas needed to be adjusted.
‘The first thing that we noticed was that it’s still pretty cold for what should be summer,’ she explained. ‘We can’t worry too much about that though, the weather is not something that we can control. I didn’t play the warm-up game, but [having watched it] I thought we didn’t apply ourselves well enough.
‘In these types of conditions you need to sum things up pretty quickly and you need to figure out what’s a good line and length, what are good shots to play on this wicket and what are high-risk shots.
‘Yesterday and today we had very good practice sessions where the batters really applied themselves. I was really impressed with the bowlers and the way they used the conditions and got the ball to swing. The game plans that they have come up with as well show some good out-of-the-box thinking and I’m quite excited to see what they do tomorrow.’
The three-match series forms part of the ICC Women’s Championship, the qualifying tournament for the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup and Van Niekerk wants a direct qualification for her team this time around.
‘It’s very important to get off to a winning start because it sets up the series,’ she went on. ‘The confidence and momentum we’ve built from the Bangladesh series didn’t go to waste. It’s important to us to get those points, we speak about it quite a lot, we don’t want to have to go to the qualifiers again and that means we’ll have to beat the best and get them.’
The match will be broadcast live on SuperSport 12 at noon (SAST).
Momentum Proteas squad: Dané van Niekerk (captain, Eastern Province), Lizelle Lee (North West), Chloe Tryon (KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins), Mignon du Preez (Northerns), Marizanne Kapp (Eastern Province), Shabnim Ismail (Gauteng), Ayabonga Khaka (Gauteng), Masabata Klaas (North West), Raisibe Ntozakhe (Gauteng), Suné Luus (Northerns), Laura Wolvaardt (Western Province), Andrie Steyn (Western Province), Zintle Mali (Border), Stacey Lackay (Western Province), Tazmin Brits (North West).
Management: Hilton Moreeng (Head Coach), Salieg Nackerdien (Assistant Coach), Sedibu Mohlaba (Manager), Abram Ramoadi (Performance Analyst), Russell Clarke (Strength & Conditioning Coach), Molebatsi Theletsane (Physiotherapist), Sipokazi Sokanyile (Media Liaison).
Photo: Harry Trump-IDI/IDI via Getty Images