Proteas Women’s 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batter Faye Tunnicliffe is relishing the chance to fill the keeper’s gloves for the national side in the absence of established keepers Trisha Chetty and Lizelle Lee.
The 20-year old has bloomed in her role behind the stumps since making her international debut during last year’s T20 series against West Indies, which preceded the 2018 ICC Women’s World T20 also in the Caribbean. Tunnecliffe has gone on to appear in eight T20s for South Africa, including the recently concluded three-nil series whitewash over Sri Lanka.
Up next is the three-match ICC Women’s Championship One-Day International (ODI) series against Sri Lanka, starting on Monday 11 February, with all three matches scheduled to be played at Potchefstroom’s Senwes Park.
Tunnicliffe, who represents Boland women, is determined to improve her wicket-keeping skills and hopes to one day be ranked among the best in the world. She admits that the pressure she put on herself when she first took the gloves, coupled with comments from the international community played on her confidence when she first started her international career, but now, she has chosen to look at the pressure as a growth mechanism.
‘It’s definitely a skill set that I have been focusing on a lot, especially since the West Indies,’ said Tunnicliffe. ‘Beforehand, coming into the team as a junior and playing such a big role as a wicket-keeper, there was a lot of pressure there. It’s something I take on the chin, in terms of the pressure and the comments from everyone.
‘The last T20 series was definitely a lot better for me, just in terms of the confidence as well because I knew I had a couple of games behind me, so that helped a lot as the series progressed. I feel like I’ve definitely improved, and I look forward to what the future has for me with the gloves,’ she added.
The right-handed batter confessed she was surprised at her initial call-up to the squad as a wicket-keeper in September last year following Chetty’s failure to return to full fitness after a lengthy injury. Despite not regularly playing as a ‘keeper for her provincial side, Tunnecliffe’s domestic performances with the bat – and her cameo in the role for the Women’s Emerging team – earned her an opportunity with the national set-up which saw her rewarded with the chance to play two matches at the World T20.
With Chetty and Lee still hard at work on returning to their respective peak fitness levels, Tunnicliffe is set to make her debut in the 50-over format for the Proteas. The youngster reveals how she’s dealing with the test of replacing the vastly experienced pair who, between them, have picked up 178 ODI caps.
‘That’s probably the biggest thing for me, the pressure I put on myself because I compared myself a lot to them,’ explained Tunnicliffe. ‘Particularly Trisha (Chetty), who is a phenomenal ‘keeper regardless of her injury now. She’s always going to be one of the world’s best. It is a privilege to fill in that position because of the player she is. With the Lizelle (Lee) as well, I have learnt a lot from her which has really helped.
‘I am just glad to be here and if something does go wrong with Trisha or Lizelle, then I’m glad they can fall back on me,’ she added.
Tunnecliffe singles out Western Province coach Ezra Poole and South African-born, former New Zealand wicketkeeper, Kruger van Wyk as key figures in shaping her glove work. Not forgetting the other side of her game, the Western Cape cricketer is keen to ensure her batting is up to scratch for international cricket.
‘It’s definitely a skill set that I still need to work on (at this level) because when it comes to pressure again, I think batting in the lower order and knowing what I can do, it is a lot of pressure I put on myself in terms of having to score runs. If it doesn’t come off, I am quite hard on myself. So it is, at international level, something I want to work on,’ concluded Tunnecliffe.
The first match of the ODI series starts at 10h00 on Monday. Entrance is free.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images