The Proteas women’s strongmen are eager to lead their side to victory in what could become their last major tournament together as they complete their ICC Women’s World Cup campaign against Bangladesh on Saturday in Dunedin, New Zealand. Zealand, open.
The core group of Mignon du Preez, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Trisha Chetty, Masabata Klaas and Tazmin Britten are all in their thirties and eager to go a few steps further than they did in the previous edition.
During the 2017 World Cup, the Proteas did a great job, upset some more fanatical teams to reach the semi-finals where they were just knocked out by eventual champions England.
Captain Sune Luus, forced to replace the injury absence of permanent captain Dane van Niekerk, believes this is the most important for the team.
“We’ve played a few World Cups together, but this is the ultimate for us,” said Luus.
“For a lot of our experienced players this is their big one. Hopefully we can count it and make it enjoyable. We have a balanced team and if all three divisions shoot we can beat any team in the world.
“The challenge for us is to let all three skills slip on the day and make sure we do that consistently. We all feel quite confident. We ran through the park today (Friday) and it’s pretty cool here in Dunedin, it’s some really nice terrain and we’re all really excited to get started.”
Against Bangladesh, however, the team will have to do without their standout player of the past year, lead-off hitter Lizelle Lee who was named Women’s ICC ODI Player of the Year for 2021, as she is still in quarantine after a delayed arrival in New Zealand due to the birth of her first child.
Tazmin Brits has thus stepped into the breach alongside regular opener Laura Wolvaardt in their two warm-up defeats against India and England, and Luus hopes she will rise to the challenge.
“We always knew she (Lee) would not be available for the first game, so we gave some players a head start and hopefully we have the right combination,” admitted Luus.
“Hopefully she (Brits) will make it difficult for Lizelle to return to the side.
“For us, the warm-ups were about assessing the conditions and getting what we could out of it. There were a lot of positives and it also gave a lot of players some playing time and confidence in the middle.”