Cricket

Mixture of youth and experience may be recipe for success for SA women

04 November 2018 - 00:00 By KHANYISO TSHWAKU


Such was the success of the Women's T20 World Cup that was held concurrently with the men's edition in India two years ago, the women's edition, which starts on Friday in the West Indies, now deservedly stands alone.
The last tournament was unexpectedly and deservedly won by the current hosts, the West Indies, who not only remain an enigma, but a dangerous side.
The same could be said of coach Hilton Moreeng's South African unit that flattered to deceive in India two years ago.
Their Group A showing was a disappointing one as losses to the strong Australians and New Zealanders was also mixed with a dispiriting defeat to the inconsistent Sri Lankans.
In the five-team group, SA finished fourth and had only a 65-run win against Ireland in Chennai to show for their efforts.
However, their 50-over form since not only highlighted a form-driven swing in fortunes, but it was translated into something tangible in the 20-over game.
Home series against the very strong India and England sides were lost, but the improvement was there to be seen.
There was also the impressive 2017 Women's World Cup showing in the UK where the side pushed England to the limit in a pulsating semifinal.
Such a measure of unexpected and unqualified success will need a follow up. Whether or not they're aware of it at this stage, Dane van Niekerk's side will be hard-pressed to follow up their World Cup fairytale with something even better.
The leadership group from the 2016 side in Mignon du Preez and Trisha Chetty are in the squad to provide the necessary experience but the squad itself is probably the best SA has at its disposal.
Marizanne Kapp, Masabata Klaas, Shab-nim Ismail, Chloe Tryon, Van Niekerk and Lizelle Lee are all seasoned campaigners who will be expected to contribute at various junctures.
The likes of Zintle Mali, Tumi Sekhukhune and Laura Wolvaardt have impressed while being eased in.
Wolvaardt's deceptively beautiful yet destructive batting at the top of the order has given the women a cutting edge that was missing on the slow Indian surfaces.
Sekhukhune is a recent addition, having made her debut only two months ago against the West Indies.
Clearly, there's something Moreeng has seen in the 19-year-old fast-medium bowler from Daveyton on the East Rand that's given him the confidence to pick her for the tournament.
Then again, Wolvaardt's also just fresh out of school and the Stellenbosch University medical student has stamped her batting authority.
Such a mix of youth and experience will be necessary to get out of a tough Group A that consists of England, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The Asian sides were and remain unpredictable and dangerous, but the known quantities, England and the West Indies, are clear and present dangers.
The top two sides in each group will proceed to the play-offs that will take place at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua.
Group B though has the powerhouses that are Australia, New Zealand and India, sides that have beaten SA in the past.

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