Johannesburg – IOL Sport’s Stuart Hess looks at five areas the Proteas Women’s team need to focus on ahead of a rare Test match against England.
BOWLING: The former England captain and current manager of the Northern Titans, Karen Smithies, described the Proteas’s bowling as being a “gun unit.” A big chunk of that firepower was lost however with the news that Shabnim Ismail is out of the match with a calf strain and that Ayabonga Khaka is not being considered for the Test format. Nevertheless, Marizanne Kapp, Nadine de Klerk, Anneke Bosch and Tumi Sekhukhune, still represent a strong attack that remains the major weapon for South Africa. Smithies believes that South Africa must hit England hard and early with that strength.
FIELDING: Not South Africa’s strongest area. They veer between the sublime and ridiculous when it comes to this department and sadly in the World Cup semi-final also against England it proved costly. South Africa has the bowling to knock over England, but it needs to be backed up by good catching. The likes of Laura Wolvaardt, Kapp and De Klerk usually set the tone – the others need to follow.
LAURA WOLVAARDT: In a couple of the matches in the Irish series she looked like she was working on her Test batting. This is a format that seems suited to her and her classical style, and in the warm-up match against England A she made a hundred that would have done lots for her self-belief. Admitted that she had to learn to put away her favourite cover drive early on and if she applies that and other lessons, something special could be in the offing.
Happy Test eve 😄
The #MomentumProteas take to the field dressed in white for the first time since 2014 🏏
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) June 26, 2022
CAPTAINCY: In the continued absence of Dane van Niekerk, Sune Luus will lead the Proteas in the historic match at Taunton. Luus has proved to be an adept leader, perhaps missing some of Van Niekerk’s ‘heart on the sleeve’ passion, but nonetheless a disciplined skipper, who demands the best out of the players. She faces a tricky examination, given the tactical demands of the Test format and it will be interesting to see how she manages the bowling unit, which will hold the key if South Africa is to win.
PATIENCE: Test cricket is demanding, both physically and especially mentally. The coaching staff have created different conditioning protocols for the players in the off season to help them prepare for the match. Crucially, Test cricket requires patience, from hour to hour, session to session and day to day. It will be a very new experience for most of the Proteas, including Luus, and how they all manage that will be vital in determining the outcome.