CAPE TOWN - The Momentum Proteas Women’s team are back in action this week after spending the winter in hibernation. They are in the idyllic Caribbean islands where they will face a strong West Indies team across three T20Is and five ODIs.
IOL Sport’s Zaahier Adams profiles five Proteas to keep an eye on ahead of the first T20I in Antigua at 8pm (SA time) on Tuesday.
Dane van Niekerk
All eyes will undoubtedly be on the captain’s return to the national team after a lengthy absence due to injury. Van Niekerk is obviously in good form though, coming off her excellent Player of the Tournament performance in the inaugural Hundred competition in England. While her class and ability is unquestionable, it will be interesting to see how she assimilates into the squad again, especially after the side had done so well in her absence under the leadership of Sune Luus. “I need to find my feet. I don’t want to come back in and bash everyone with what I believe or what I think. They’ve created a very good atmosphere and environment and I want to join in, because it’s been a very successful one,” Van Niekerk said upon arrival in the Caribbean.
Tryon is another senior member of the Proteas team returning to the team after a lengthy break, and the former vice-captain will be looking to make a big impact just to remind everyone of her abilities. Although one of the most powerful strikers of a cricket ball in the women’s game, hence Tryon continuing to pick up deals in the global franchise leagues, she faces plenty of challengers from the youthful brigade bubbling under for her slot in the middle-order. A quiet Hundred competition has not helped her cause either and Tryon certainly has it all to do in the West Indies if she hopes to remain a permanent fixture in the starting line-up building up towards next year’s World Cup.
Arguably one of South Africa’s unluckiest sportspeople – let alone cricketer – Britz is keen to make up for lost time. The powerfully-built right-hander had a breakout T20I series against Pakistan, in the absence of Van Niekerk, at the top of the order with two consecutive Player of the Match performances. Unfortunately Britz was not able to take that momentum into the subsequent Indian tour, having to return home due to the death of her father. However, she is back in the swing of things now after an excellent SA Emerging Tour to Zimbabwe recently and is looking to have a full crack at the West Indians.
With the pitch conditions in the Caribbean expected to favour the slow bowlers, there will be plenty of focus on left-arm spinner Mlaba. The 21-year-old has been a revelation since joining the Proteas Women’s team at last year’s T20 World Cup. Although primarily a defensive spinner that prefers to keep things tight with fast-paced deliveries, Mlaba may need to alter her gameplan to a more attacking line utilising greater flight and turn due to the conditions as her team may need to play more of a strike-bowling role.
5. Sinalo Jafta
Although Jafta has primarily been chosen as the back-up wicket-keeper to veteran ‘keeper Trisha Chetty, there is every chance that the roles could be reversed by the end of tour if granted an opportunity. Jafta is a very neat ‘keeper that is blessed with good hands, and has not let the side down whenever Chetty has not been available. Equally, she is more than capable with the bat, being a very wristy player due to her being a very good hockey player in her former life.
Proteas Women’s tour to West Indies fixtures
Tuesday, 31 August
1st T20I at Sir Viv Richards Cricket Ground (8pm SA time)
Thursday, 2 September
2nd T20I at Sir Viv Richards Cricket Ground (8pm SA time)
Saturday, 4 September
3rd T20I at Sir Viv Richards Cricket Ground (12:30am SA time)
Tuesday, 7 September
1st ODI at Coolidge Cricket Ground (8:45pm SA time)
Friday, 10 September
2nd second ODI at Coolidge Cricket Ground (4pm SA time)
Monday, 13 September
3rd ODI at Coolidge Cricket Ground (4pm SA time)
Thursday, 16 September
4th ODI at Coolidge Cricket Ground (4pm SA time)
Sunday, 19 September
5th ODI at Coolidge Cricket Ground (4pm SA time)