Western Province batting all-rounder Delmari “Delmi” Tucker is putting her hand up for Proteas selection.
The uncapped Tucker, who has played for the SA Emerging side, attended national camps towards the end of last year in Tshwane and Gqeberha before receiving her biggest indication yet that she is being closely monitored by the Proteas selectors.
The former pupil of Hoërskool Menlo Park, which also produced Suné Luus, was brought in as part of the pre-tour camp ahead of the ODI series against the West Indies, before going on to feature in the series’ only warm-up game.
“Being selected for the West Indies camp was massive and actually playing against them in that warm-up match,” Tucker says. “I have played for SA Emerging against Thailand and Zimbabwe, but that feeling when I walked on to that field with some big names, like Shabnim [Ismail] and Jay Jay [Sinalo Jafta] … my heart could not stop beating and I was smiling the whole time.”
Before going on to play for the Titans, Dragons and WP, the Pretoria-born cricketer was an avid teenage hockey player, earning provincial colours for Northerns.
The similarities between using a hockey stick and playing different strokes with a cricket bat gave Tucker a head start when she decided to pursue a career in cricket.
“With hockey, you always have to stay low and there are all these skills you have to do to get around people,” Tucker says. “In cricket now, the game has developed so much and so quickly that normal shots are not good enough anymore, so that’s how hockey has come in handy. When my coach taught me those shots for the first time, it was easy.
“I am definitely glad I played hockey and did it so much that cricket and hockey just combined easily.”
During the 2021-22 domestic season, the 24-year-old averaged 40 with the bat to help guide WP to second place in the CSA Women’s Provincial One-Day Top 6, finishing with 280 runs in 10 matches, including three half-centuries. She also made 129 runs at an average of 64.50 as WP were crowned the CSA Women’s Provincial T20 champions.
With her off-spin, Tucker picked up 14 wickets in 10 games in the 50-over competition, averaging 15.78, with best figures of 3-11.
The Proteas will play three ODIs and three T20Is against Ireland from 3-17 June, before a multi-format tour to England from 27 June to 25 July. The team will also participate at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in August this year.
“It would literally be a dream come true,” says Tucker when asked what it would mean for her to make her Proteas debut this season. “It has always been at the back of my mind, but I keep that to myself.
“I made this dream with my dad one day and I said to him that if I ever walk onto that field with that jersey on, I will give the biggest smile I could ever give.”