The Proteas are capable of reaching the semi-finals and beyond, but can it all click together on the day? Tom Sizeland previews their chances.
THE BIG PICTURE
There’s no reason why the Proteas Women can’t go far in this tournament. In the bowling department, they have the No 1 ODI bowler in the world in Marizanne Kapp and arguably the quickest in the world in Shabnim Ismail. Their batting boasts the youngest South African to score an ODI century in Laura Wolvaardt, and one of the most experienced in the business in Mignon du Preez. They have one of the most improved cricketers on the planet in Sune Luus, and an established captain who’s taken more wickets than anyone else in a Proteas shirt in Dane van Niekerk.
What threatens to trouble them, and what has done on countless occasions over the last couple of years, is that they don’t all click at once. In theory, here’s a team who are capable of knocking Australia off their throne. They came agonisingly close to beating them last year not once, but twice, but in the 12 occasions they’ve played them, that victory eludes them. Perhaps their lowest point was when they lost 5-2 to New Zealand in their own backyard late-last year, because the potential was there to beat them, but winning is just a habit they’ve struggled to get themselves into. Too often has one or two players had to carry the whole side.
Alas, this is a different side to the one that travelled to India in 2013. Not so much in personnel, but in quality and job security. The majority of the side now have professional contracts and are backed by substantial sponsors. As many as eight players have survived the 2013 World Cup which saw them win just two matches out of eight, which means they boast a lot more experience this time around, as well as the improved infrastructure and financial backing which has allowed them to enhance their game.
Off-field problems involving a couple of their players are behind them, and several of the players have enjoyed the experience of playing in the Women’s Big Bash League, as well as the Kia Super League in England. Most of them are carrying some form through to this tournament, and with a bit of luck on their side, they are capable of emulating their semi-final performance back in 2000.
They are ranked No 6 in the world, but on their day they are more than capable of beating No 4-ranked India. They brushed aside No 5 West Indies in the warm-up match. If, as I said above, it all comes together on the day, they can reach the semi-finals. My more conservative gut feeling says they will finish fifth.
vs Pakistan, Sunday 25 June, Leicester, 11.30am
vs New Zealand, Wednesday 28 June, Derby, 11.30am
vs West Indies, Sunday 2 July, Leicester, 11.30am
vs England, Wednesday 5 July, Bristol, 11.30am
vs India, Saturday 8 July, Leicester, 11.30am,
vs Sri Lanka, Wednesday 12 July, Taunton, 11.30am
vs Australia, Saturday 15 July, Taunton, 11.30am
Chloe Tryon: Someone I didn’t mention in the big picture is Tryon, and she’s going to be vital to the cause, because she’s the one player in that side who’s capable of turning good totals in to big ones. The side tend to lack a bit of spark towards the death, but when Tryon is in the middle, there’s always a chance of fireworks. She’s normally penciled in at No 6 in the batting order, but she’s free to roam if a bit of power hitting is required. Her 39-ball 77, coming in at No 4 against India, saw her smash six sixes and five fours for the Proteas to post 269-5. They ended up beating India by eight runs … case and point of the difference she makes.
Shabnim Ismail: Even when she’s not taking wickets, her pace makes it very uncomfortable for the opposition, which often leads to wickets at the other end. The Proteas have plenty of control in their bowling form the likes of Kapp, Klaas and Ayabonga Khaka. Ismail offers that raw pace to complete the package, and with 101 wickets from 70 matches at an average of 19.67, she’s a force to be reckoned with.
WORLD CUP PERFORMANCE
P 31, W11, L19, NR1
257 – Trisha Chetty @ 28.55
205 – Marizanne Kapp @ 34.16
175 – Dane van Niekerk @ 35.00
152 – Mignon du Preez @ 15.20
91 – Shabnim Ismail @ 15.16
12 – Dane van Niekerk @ 16.00
12 – Shabnim Ismail @ 28.75
7 – Marizanne Kapp @ 23.75
5 – Chloe Tryon @ 24.60
5 – Martia Letsoalo @ 43.40
Dane van Niekerk, Trisha Chetty, Moseline Daniels, Nadine de Klerk, Mignon du Preez, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Lizelle Lee, Sune Luus, Raisibe Ntokazhe, Andrie Steyn, Chloe Tryon
1. Laura Wolvaardt, 2. Lizelle Lee, 3. Trisha Chetty, 4. Mignon du Preez, 5. Marizanne Kapp, 6. Dane van Niekerk, 7. Chloe Tryon, 8. Sune Luus, 9. Shabnim Ismail, 10. Masabata Klaas, 11. Ayabonga Khaka
Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images