Dane van Niekerk admits that winning the CSA Women’s Cricketer of the Year was unexpected.
The new Proteas captain beat teammates Trisha Chetty and Lizelle Lee to the award, saying she felt honoured to be selected ahead of so many other players.
She had a dominant year for her country where she starred with bat and ball, taking 13 wickets and making close to 400 runs in a combined 16 one-day and Twenty20 internationals for South Africa.
After Mignon du Preez stepped down, the 23-year-old took the opportunity to accept the responsibility of captaining the side.
Over the last few months, Van Niekerk has been part of the South African teams that beat World T20 champions West Indies 2-1 in a three-match series, whilst narrowly losing a one-day series 2-1 to the islanders. They also pushed England hard, but lost both ODI and T20 series by the same margins.
There were some encouraging performances by the ladies, despite being kicked out in the group stages of the World T20 earlier this year.
The South Africans have just completed their tour of Ireland, where they drew a T20 series and dominated the one-day leg by going up 3-1 and sealing victory.
‘I guess that the amazing strides our team has made in the sense of how committed they are. I saw them just before they went to Ireland and they look fit, they look hungry to play cricket and that hunger is one of the key ingredients to getting the desired results,’ Van Niekerk explained.
The Proteas are next due to face Bangladesh and will also play New Zealand and Australia later this year as preparation for next year’s World Cup.
‘I’m just so excited for the new season,’ Van Niekerk added. ‘Our management has put some good structures in place going forward and I’m just excited to be part of it.
‘To captain this team and this amazing group, it’s just exciting times ahead for cricket in South Africa in general. Hopefully we can put the performances in building up to the World Cup and really compete in the World Cup to try and bring the cup home.’
Van Niekerk is currently playing in the inaugural Women’s Cricket Super League in England, and will feature on Finals Day on Sunday.
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