Proteas captain Suné Luus believes 25,000 fans packed inside Newlands on Friday will inspire an opening win at the Women’s T20 World Cup even if her parents fail to make it.
South Africa tackle Sri Lanka in the first game of the 16-day, 10-team event as they attempt to improve on their best performance of two semi-final appearances.
However, Luus said Thursday that her parents were battling to reach Cape Town after missing their flight from Johannesburg while they ate breakfast.
“My parents just missed their flight. Hopefully they make it for the first game to be here and support me,” said Luus who said her sudden elevation to the role as national captain drove her father to tears.
“He started crying and he was just so proud. It is a massive honour to lead a country in any series but at a home World Cup, that makes it even more special.”
South Africa’s build-up, however, has been far from smooth after long-time regular captain Dané van Niekerk was left out of the squad for failing a fitness test.
Van Niekerk’s wife Marizanne Kapp, also a member of the squad, was granted compassionate leave to help her partner. Van Niekerk said she was “absolutely broken” by her exclusion.
Luus shrugged off the controversy surrounding her predecessor.
“I think it’s just the reality. I’m an official captain, so I think it makes my job easier to take control and kind of stamp my authority on things,” added the 27-year-old.
“It brings new challenges and difficulties, but it’s a challenge I’m willing to take on and accept and grow in that role.”
At the 2020 World Cup, South Africa topped their group to reach the semi-finals for the second time in their history, going down to eventual winners Australia in the last four.
Luus believes her 2023 team can make an impact on and off the field over the next two weeks.
“It’s massive. I don’t think we quite realise what we have already achieved without playing a game. It’s going to be awesome tomorrow just seeing everyone coming out,” she said.
“Apart from the cricketing things and apart from being successful and winning games, there’s a responsibility of inspiring a nation, inspiring young girls to get out of their comfort zones and to imagine a career where they can do anything.”
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, warmed up for the tournament by playing matches against boys’ teams back home and captain Chamari Athapaththu says all the pressure is on the home side.
“South Africa has a lot of experienced players. They play a lot of cricket all around the world, especially franchise cricket,” said Athapaththu whose squad includes 17-year-old Vishmi Gunaratne and Kaushani Nuthyangana, 20.
“This is a really good opportunity for my youngsters and I just told them to play freely,” she added.
“It’s just a game. I said it’s a school game, a club game, think like that. Play your natural game.”
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© Agence France-Presse