Former Proteas Women’s captain Dané van Niekerk says she feels “uncomfortable” wearing cricket clothes.
Van Niekerk was excluded from the Proteas squad for the T20 World Cup earlier this year after failing a 2km time trial by 18 seconds, and announced her retirement from international cricket after the tournament.
The 30-year-old is set to captain the Oval Invincibles in The Hundred, which starts in August.
“In everyday life I’ll walk around in shorts and a T-shirt. I feel OK – like a human, a normal human being,” Van Niekerk told BBC Sport Africa.
“I don’t feel like I’m overweight; I don’t feel uncomfortable. But the moment I put on cricket clothes I feel uncomfortable, and I don’t feel like I need to.
“It’s easy to speak about the fitness aspect. It’s not a lie – I was never the leanest cricketer in the world, but I won games for franchises. I won games for my country.
“I realise how important fitness is – I’ll never shy away from that – but you cannot diminish somebody or make them feel bad because [they] don’t look and do the things the way that you expect.”
Van Niekerk said the past five months had also taken a toll on her wife, Proteas all-rounder Marizanne Kapp.
“She’s a lot more emotional than I am. Sometimes I find her crying, and I can’t understand why she’s crying, and then she would tell me she’s crying for me,” Van Niekerk said.
“Marizanne was in the room after the fitness test, and I came short, and I’ll be breaking down because I’ve been pushing myself into the ground.
“I hadn’t been eating. She sees that’s not healthy. She lived it with me.
“But she’s good. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. She’s been wonderful in supporting me. I’m just very blessed to have her.”