Cricket South Africa has announced three new caps to the Proteas Women’s squad to tour the West Indies in September and October.
Powerade National Academy graduates Tumi Sekhukhune, Saarah Smith and Robyn Searle will embark on their first international tour when the Proteas take on the Windies in a three-match ODI and five-match T20I series in Barbados and Trinidad.
The trio was selected at the conclusion of the third annual CSA North vs South competition in Pretoria, where 26 of the country’s most promising cricketers were assembled for a gruelling three days of competitive T20 action.
National convenor of selectors Clinton du Preez is pleased with the balance of the team that the panel has gone with after an extensive debrief of the recently concluded England tour, where South Africa suffered a 3-1 ODI series loss along with disappointment in the T20 triangular series that included New Zealand. With the 2018 ICC World T20 also taking place in the West Indies this November, it was important for the selectors to ensure they continued building up towards to the tournament and provide coach Hilton Moreeng with the right personnel for the notoriously tough conditions.
‘As a selection panel, we conducted a debrief from the England tour and also the successful Bangladesh tour prior to that. We discovered that there were a few areas where the team was falling short and we realised we had to look at different options and different types of skill sets to try and set ourselves up well for the West Indies tour with the World Cup not far behind after that,’ commented Du Preez.
‘It was quite a nice challenge that we faced when it came to making that final decision,’ Du Preez continued. ‘We conducted the North vs South tournament which gave us an extra indication as to which players we could look at in our search for those extra skill sets. It was a great exercise – we picked up a few players that have shown a lot of intent and potential. This is a really good opportunity for them to showcase their talent in the West Indies tour.
‘Robyn Searle came and played something out of the ordinary during the North vs South tournament. She had a really good time at the national academy and she’s played some great knocks which has put her in good stead as she’s challenged for a place in the national team. Saarah Smith has come on board and shown a lot of intent in the national academy as well. She’s really pushed for her place and we’re looking forward to seeing what she’ll bring to the national side. Tumi Sekhukhune has used the opportunities that she has received in her two seasons at the national academy and shown tremendous growth and maturity in a short period of time and we’re interested to see how she will take to this new challenge in the national team.’
With T20 cricket taking up most teams’ attention ahead of the World Cup, Du Preez has stressed that South Africa is still keeping a keen eye on their progress in the one-day game as they continue to target direct qualification into the 2021 ICC World Cup in New Zealand. The ODI series will form part of the ICC Women’s Championship (IWC) with crucial points up for grabs.
‘We can’t lose focus on the IWC because that allows for qualification into the World Cup 2021, so we need to make sure we are still giving ODI cricket the attention it deserves,’ he added.
Ayabonga Khaka has been ruled out of the tour after undergoing shoulder surgery. She will be out for four to six weeks as she targets a return to action in the World T20. Other team movements see the return of veteran wicketkeeper Trisha Chetty.
‘We have always got very high hopes with every tour that comes along, especially with this West Indies tour coming along so close to the World T20. We have not settled on our final World Cup squad yet, we’re still looking at one or two other combinations,’ Du Preez concluded.
Proteas Women squad to West Indies
Dané van Niekerk, captain (Eastern Province)
Chloe Tryon, vice-captain (KwaZulu-Natal Coastal)
Laura Wolvaardt (Western Province)
Lizelle Lee (North West)
Suné Luus (Northerns)
Mignon du Preez (Northerns)
Marizanne Kapp (Eastern Province)
Shabnim Ismail (Gauteng)
Raisibe Ntozakhe (Gauteng)
Masabata Klaas (North West)
Zintle Mali (Border)
Trisha Chetty (Gauteng)
Robyn Searle (Gauteng)
Tumi Sekhukhune (Easterns)
Saarah Smith (Western Province).
Hilton Moreeng (Head Coach)
Salieg Nackerdien (Assistant Coach)
Sedibu Mohlaba (Manager)
Abram Ramoadi (Performance Analyst)
Russell Clarke (Strength & Conditioning Coach)
Molebatsi Theletsane (Physiotherapist)
Sipokazi Sokanyile (Media Liaison)
Sunday, 16 September: 1st IWC ODI – Kensington Oval
Wednesday, 19 September: 2nd IWC ODI – Kensington Oval
Saturday, 22 September: 3rd IWC ODI – Kensington Oval
Monday, 24 September: 1st T20I – Kensington Oval
Friday, 28 September: 2nd T20I – Brian Lara Cricket Academy
Sunday, 30 September: 3rd T20I – Brian Lara Cricket Academy
Wednesday, 03 October: 4th T20I – Brian Lara Cricket Academy
Saturday, 06 October: 5th T20I – Brian Lara Cricket Academy
Photo: Cricket South Africa