Proteas Women all-rounder Suné Luus showed great character when she set up her side’s two-wicket win with a second career five-wicket haul in the T20I win over Sri Lanka at the Wanderers on Sunday. But the words of skipper Dane van Niekerk also played a major role in her success.
The hosts took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series as the 23-year-old leg-spinner from Pretoria took 5-14 in her first match following a recall to replace the injured Chloe Tryon. This, after she was initially dropped from the side for the Sri Lanka tour due to a disappointing run in 2018.
Luus admits to being nervous ahead of the match, but knew she had to make the opportunity count and show the selectors that she was still a viable option for the national team. She credits captain Dané van Niekerk and assistant coach Salieg Nackerdien for helping her to stay calm.
‘She just came out and said; “listen, you’re gonna bowl now, just bowl like we know you can and just enjoy it”,’ said Luus about skipper Van Niekerk’s influence on her performance.
‘I think for me it was about getting confidence in the middle, and with every ball (bowled) that grew, so I was happy with that,’ said Luus. ‘I’d had a chat with one of the coaches, Salieg (Nackerdien) beforehand, and I asked him ”how do I go about today? Because I know there’s a lot of pressure and you feel like everyone’s eyes are on you” and I didn’t want to add pressure on myself.
‘He was just like; “well, you’ve been dropped already so you can’t go any worse. You just go out there and you just enjoy it and play the way Suné plays.” And for me with my bowling, that was Suné and I think you can’t expect more of that from a bowling point of view. It wasn’t my day with the bat, but hopefully, I get a second opportunity in the third T20 just to bring those two performances together,’ added Luus.
Luus believes that the series victory, with a match to spare, will do wonders for the team’s confidence going into the last match at SuperSport Park on Wednesday. She was pleased to see Nadine de Klerk’s determination at the crease during South Africa’s 106-run chase, and was even more impressed with how she kept a cool head when the pressure was at its highest. South Africa’s batters slipped from 57-4 to 97-8 and snuck a win with just one ball left in the match.
‘Coming off maybe not a great year, everyone was pretty hungry for this series win,’ she explained. ‘I think in the past we wouldn’t have gone over the line (in this match situation), this is one of those wins that we’re gonna keep close to our hearts. It bodes well for the last match, the confidence from the way we managed to get that win is something that will drive us to finish the series well.
‘We speak a lot about our brand of cricket and how we want to play, and with these fresh youngsters, we can play fresh cricket and play according to that,’ she went on. ‘Although we had a collapse in the middle, I think the bravery they showed is a part of that brand. Nadine played fearlessly at the end, and that’s something that we’ve been working towards and it’s a process for us, but I think we’re on the right track.’
The third and final match of the series will start at 1pm and will be broadcast live on SuperSport 2.
Photo: Getty Images