Youngsters back up captain Van Niekerk as Proteas Women claim series whitewash
CENTURION – Proteas Women captain Dané van Niekerk praised her young side’s liberated approach with the bat on Wednesday as they wrapped up the T20 series against Sri Lanka 3-0 with a 39-run victory.
Gone were the nerves of the first two games in a much better performance by the South Africans, after they’d stumbled across the line to claim the series at the Wanderers last Sunday.
They were aggressive with the bat at SuperSport Park, and played more freely than had been the case a few days ago in compiling 163/5 in their 20 overs, to which the visitors replied with 124/8.
Also more importantly, SA weren’t as reliant on Van Niekerk as they’d been in the first two matches.
She still top-scored with 38, but there were good innings from Tazmin Brits, who scored 36 (30 balls, 4x4, 1x6) and Lara Goodall, who struck the ball cleanly in a lively innings of 35 (30 balls, 3x4).
“At the Wanderers, we were a bit too cute and ‘pushy’ towards the ball, and while we know that there’s a lot of inexperience in the side, we wanted everyone to back their ability to hit the ball,” Van Niekerk said afterwards.
For Suné Luus, Wednesday’s match was redemptive. Left out of the squad initially, after her performances last year were deemed disappointing by the selectors, she has taken the opportunity granted to her by the injury to Chloe Tryon to show she had heeded the call to perform more consistently and aggressively.
Luus played beautifully in scoring 26 off just 15 balls hitting a four and two sixes to finish off the South African innings, and later added a wicket to walk away with a second consecutive Player of the Match prize.
Van Niekerk acknowledged that the decision to axe Lizelle Lee, because she did not adhere to the requisite fitness standards, was a shock.
“She’s a massive player for us, she’s as destructive as any batter in the world. But you have to make those decisions, you have to draw the line somewhere and we did just that,” the skipper said.
“No individual is bigger than the team or the badge. That’s a message to everyone, myself included – if you don’t put the badge first and don’t put in the hard work, then somebody else is going to take your place.
“To see the juniors put up their hands is a massive message to all the seniors in the side – you can’t be complacent anymore.”
Next week, South Africa play Sri Lanka in three One-Day Internationals, during which points are at stake for the ICC Women’s Championship.
The top four teams in that competition, which is played over two years, will qualify automatically for the 2021 World Cup.@shockerhess