SA look for home comfort after troubled WC build-up

Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023

CAPE TOWN: South Africa will seek to take advantage of home conditions in the Women´s T20 World Cup which starts on Friday despite a troubled build-up.

South Africa play Sri Lanka in the opening match at Newlands in Cape Town.

The hosts will hope to improve on the performances of their country´s men´s team who failed to reach the knockout stages in the only two global men´s cricket events held in South Africa, the 2003 World Cup and 2006 Champions Trophy.

South Africa were also under-performing hosts of the 2005 Women´s World Cup, when they finished seventh out of eight teams taking part.

Crowds were sparse and media exposure was minimal at a time when interest in women´s cricket was almost non-existent.

The 2023 event will, however, have a higher profile, with significant pre-publicity and live television coverage.

Controversy over the omission of former captain Dane van Niekerk on fitness grounds has been the biggest news event of the build-up.

All-rounder Sune Luus will continue to lead the side, a role she has fulfilled in a caretaker capacity since 2019 when Van Niekerk suffered the first of a string of injuries.

"We are used to the conditions, we know what to expect from every ground we´re going to be playing on. Hopefully we can use that to our advantage," said Luus. Luus made a point of mentioning Marizanne Kapp as one of the team´s "standout" players and whose form will be crucial to South Africa´s hopes.

Kapp was one of South Africa´s stars when they reached the semi-finals of the 50-overs World Cup in Australia last year, taking 12 wickets and scoring 203 runs at a strike rate of 92.

Kapp is married to Van Niekerk and was given compassionate leave from a triangular tournament final against India last week in order to support her wife following the World Cup squad announcement. Despite Kapp´s absence, South Africa won a low-scoring match but Kapp remains committed to the World Cup campaign.

She has, though, been outspoken in support of Van Niekerk.

"It is a massive setback for me, Dane and the team that she is not in the World Cup squad," Kapp told the Rapport newspaper at the weekend, adding that Van Niekerk´s experience as a player and "magnificent leader" would be sorely missed.

South Africa´s strength is in fast bowling in which Kapp, Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka form a formidable trio.

Nonkululeko Mlaba is an improving left-arm spin bowler and Luus has resumed her slow leg-spinners after recovering from a finger injury which limited her bowling last year.