South African women’s cricket team shining at World Cup

While the Proteas men’s team are experiencing ups and downs on tour in England, the women’s team are riding high with some stellar performances at the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup, also being held in England. Here are profiles of some of the team’s top performers.

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The South African Women’s Cricket team, led by captain Dane van Niekerk (left), are currently at the Women’s Cricket World Cup in England. The tournament ends on 26 July 2017. (Image: Cricket South Africa)

CD Anderson

The South African Women’s Cricket team are currently playing at the World Cup in England, and the team are doing very well.

On 25 June 2017, the team won their opening match against Pakistan by three wickets, while their second game against New Zealand was abandoned because of rain. Their next game against the West Indies, on 2 July, was a green and gold whitewash — the Proteas won by 10 wickets, with a trailblazing performance by captain Dane van Niekerk (see below).

A close loss to hosts England on 5 July and a comeback win against India on 8 July set the team up for a chance to make the semi-finals, with only Sri Lanka (12 July) and Australia (15 July) to play in the round-robin format.

*Update: On 12 July, the South African women’s cricket team beat Sri Lanka to qualify for the semi-finals. Read the full match report here.

So far, it is the best performance by the national women’s team since readmission, thanks to a wealth of fresh and established talent in the team and growing support of South African fans.

We look at some of the star players in the current South African women’s team, and highlights from their performances in England.

Dane van Niekerk (all-rounder, captain)

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(Image: Cricket South Africa)

Dane van Niekerk has been a regular presence in the national team since 2009, representing the side at the 2009 and 2013 World Cups, as well as the World Twenty20 (T20) competition from 2009 to 2016.

In 2013, she became the first South African woman to take an international hat-trick, and also scored her first of five one-day international (ODI) half-centuries, establishing her as a formidable all-round talent. She replaced long-time captain Mignon du Preez as Test, ODI and T20 captain in 2016. In the run-up to this year’s World Cup, she became the seventh player in women’s cricket to reach 1,000 ODI runs and 100 ODI wickets.

It is as a bowler that Van Niekerk is at her most dangerous. At this year’s World Cup she has already taken nine wickets in four games, including a four wicket haul against West Indies without conceding a single run — the first time in ODI history for men and women.

Before the start of the tournament, Van Niekerk made it clear that the team had a definite goal in sight, saying: “We’re not going over there to compete or to be in the top four. We want to be the first South African cricket team to win the World Cup.” Strong words from a strong captain, and so far, the team have been sticking to that promise.

Lizelle Lee (batting)

Lizelle Lee, cricket, women's cricket, World Cup, Sport, Proteas, Dane van Niekerk
(Image: Cricket South Africa)

Lee began her international career as an opening batswoman in 2013, but soon settled in the middle order, scoring consistently and setting up some big wins for the team.

A short format expert, Lee has scored more than 1,500 ODI runs, with a respectable 88.41 strike rate. At this year’s World Cup she has scored three half-centuries in four games, including a match-winning 92 against India. Lee hit 17 boundaries, including seven sixes.

Ayabonga Khaka (bowler)

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(Image: Cricket South Africa)

Already a veteran of the side, with 41 wickets in 42 games under her belt, Khaka enjoys bowling a slower, medium length ball that puts her opponents too comfortable with pace on the back foot. She played a pivotal role as a pressure bowler in the defeat of India recently, taking two vital wickets.

Khaka hopes to use her talent to get a breakthrough in the Australian top order when the two teams meet on 15 July.

Shabnim Ismail (fast bowler)

Shabnim Ismail, cricket, women's cricket, World Cup, Sport, Proteas, Dane van Niekerk
(Image: Cricket South Africa)

Ismail made her international debut at the age of 17 in 2007, and is currently the side’s deadly opening bowler. With an average bowling speed of 127km/h (comparable to the heyday of Protea pacers Allan Donald and Andre Nel), she has taken more than 100 wickets in her career, including three four-wicket and one five-wicket hauls.

So far at this year’s World Cup, she has taken six wickets in four games, with a middling economy rate of 5.14.

Together with fellow fast bowler Marizanne Kapp, Ismail forms part of what Guardian Sport calls “[a crucial] buddy-cop blend of ‘by-the-book’ [referring to Kapp] and untameable maverick” in South Africa’s first bowling overs.

Suné Luus (batting/spin bowler)

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(Image: Cricket South Africa)

Despite being one of the youngest players in the South African team, Luus has nonetheless made a huge impact on the team’s performance in her dual roles as hard-hitting batswoman and spin bowler.

With almost 800 runs in only 41 innings, a strike rate of over 60, she can be counted on to get runs on the board in a pinch. While still finding her feet at the World Cup, with small contributions in the India and England games, Luus will be an invaluable asset during the make-or-break stages of the tournament.

Catch all the Women’s Cricket World Cup games on SuperSport during July 2017. Match details here.

Follow the team on social media, including Twitter @OfficialCSA, using the hashtags #AlwaysRising #WWC17 #proteaswomen

Source: SuperSport, Cricket South Africa, ESPN Cricinfo, YouTube, Twitter

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