SACricketMag caught up with the Proteas Women during their 10-day training camp at the High Performance Centre in Hatfield.
Plenty of new faces could be spotted around the Proteas Women’s team as they went through drills and intensive batting sessions in preparation for the slow batting conditions they can expect in the Caribbean. After a disappointing Tri-series against England and New Zealand, Proteas coach Hilton Moreeng stressed that the team had to address the lack of consistency in both batting and bowling.
‘We looked at what we needed in the squad and concluded that our batting was inconsistent, so we brought in two young batters with proven records when it comes to scoring hundreds. We also brought in a young fast bowler to complement our line-up,’ said Moreeng.
When asked for an update on Ayabonga Khaka’s injury, coach Moreeng confirmed that the Proteas support staff are confident that she’ll recover in time for the T20 World Cup.
‘The medical team is working around the clock and she’s undergoing her recovery now and we believe she’ll be ready for the World Cup,’ he said. He also confirmed that the team is intent on winning the ODI series, especially with qualification for the 2021 ODI World Cup in mind, and he’s looking forward to facing the T20 defending champions in their home conditions ahead of their meeting during the group stages of the T20 World Cup.
‘They’re a very proud nation and we are [playing] the defending champions playing on home conditions, so it will be very challenging but I think the players will be up for it,’ he added.
Veteran wicketkeeper-batter Trisha Chetty returns to the team after being rested for the previous tour. SACricketMag caught up with her to discuss the new recruits within the squad and got her opinions on the young, upcoming talents that could possibly be a suitable replacement once she decides to hang up the boots.
‘I want to stay in the team as long as possible, to be honest but, yes, there are a few girls who are coming up. I work with the keepers at the camp and give them some advice on their technique. There is potential and, hopefully, they’ll only claim my spot in a few years’ time,’ laughed Chetty.
We also chatted about the upcoming Kia Super League finals day and Chetty was quick to put her support behind the Surrey Stars.
‘I’m gonna back the Stars – we gotta back our South Africans and they’re three good players that can make a big impact in your team, so good luck to them and I’m sure they’ll bring it home,’ she added.
Proteas vice-captain Chloe Tryon also backed the Stars to bring the trophy home, but she had been impressed by the fearlessness that the young players had displayed during the north vs south trials.
‘I saw them at the National Academy building up to the north vs south matches and they just went out there and played their natural game. That’s kind of what you’d expect from youngsters, but it was nice to see the growth that they’ve had, so we’re looking forward to the West Indies.’
She shared with me how much women’s cricket has grown, both in South Africa and internationally, and how imperative it is for sporting bodies like CSA to continue the good work in backing the development of young players.
‘Cricket South Africa is very invested in the women’s game, it’s nice to see that we’ve got them to [continue] supporting and encouraging us throughout the way. We just want to represent South Africa and want the world to know about South African cricket and, hopefully, we can win a trophy this year.’
Tryon confirmed that, even though the team will be wary of the opposition in their home conditions, the Proteas Women are going into the tour confident that they can get a good result in both series.
‘We know that they won the T20 World Cup two years back so they’ve got a lot of confidence… we know we’ve got to play our best cricket and starting off [well] in the West Indies will be really good for us and a boost for our confidence going into the World Cup. We kind of had the upper hand on them, especially on their home soil, so it’s definitely something that we need [to continue] and we’ve got the skill, we’ve got the talent to do it and we’ll try to execute when we’re there.’
The team and the staff seemed adamant that they were going to put the disappointment of their previous tour behind them and are keen to make a mark during the upcoming West Indies tour. The atmosphere around the camp is very positive and one senses that the players and coaches are united in their belief of competing well in both the West Indies tour and then later in the T20 World Cup.
Even though a few of the squad members (including captain Dane van Niekerk) were missing due to their obligations in the KSL, team spirit seemed to be high as the group looked unified throughout the day’s practice session. The action begins with the first ODI at Kensington Oval on 16 September.
Report by Anitha Madikizela
Photos: Anitha Madikizela