Proteas captain Suné Luus says her side can be “proud” of themselves for reaching the final of the Women’s T20 World Cup on home soil.
South Africa recovered from losing the tournament opener against Sri Lanka and a group stage defeat to Australia to qualify for the semi-finals, where they upset England by six runs.
In the final on Sunday, they suffered a 19-run defeat to Australia, who celebrated their sixth title in eight attempts.
REPORT: Proteas Women fall short in final
But Luus said the tournament had been a major boost for women’s cricket in South Africa, with big crowds supporting the home team even after their early losses.
“I think we can be proud of ourselves,” said Luus. “It’s very exciting for women’s cricket. We have to keep on growing. We set a platform and we can’t go backwards.”
Luus challenged South African cricket officials and the government to push for girls’ cricket in schools and to improve the club and provincial system, “so we can keep knocking on Australia’s door.”
Luus also paid tribute to the Australians.
“You guys have been inspirational to world cricket for many years,” she said.
Australia won all their six matches in the tournament to hammer home their dominance of the format.
“Other teams came hard at us,” said captain Meg Lanning, adding that her group of players had risen to every challenge.
“We wanted to make sure we stayed calm when the pressure was on. It’s a very special effort from this group.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Women’s T20 World Cup final
Opening batter Beth Mooney was named Player of the Match after making an unbeaten 74 in an Australian total of 156-6.
“I walked off thinking we didn’t have enough runs but maybe I was a bit hard on myself. It was a really tough wicket,” she said.
Mooney said the Australian players were proud of their dominance.
“Other teams around the world are improving. We are being hunted but we want to enjoy it for as long as we can.”