Batting Order Top Priority for Momentum Proteas World Cup Campaign

After two close wins over Bangladesh and Pakistan to kick off their ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup campaign, the Momentum Proteas will be hoping to maintain their winning run in their next match against England in Mount Maunganui on Monday, 14 March 2022. Photo: ICC Cricket World Cup (Twitter)

After two close wins over Bangladesh and Pakistan to kick off their ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup campaign, the Momentum Proteas will be hoping to maintain their winning run in their next match against England in Mount Maunganui on Monday, 14 March 2022.

A key part of that process will be solving the apparent issues with their batting order; most importantly nailing down their No.3.

Since the 2017 World Cup over in England, six different players have batted at No.3 for South Africa in ODIs: Suné Luus, Lara Goodall, Trisha Chetty, Andrie Steyn, Anneke Bosch and Tazmin Brits.

Of them, Luus, who has batted there most often, has scored the most runs (249 in 15 innings), Goodall has been the most consistent (average of 22.60 in 12 innings), and Chetty scores the fastest (63.95 strike rate).

South Africa’s ODI No.3s since August 2017

Player Inns NO Runs HS Avg. SR 50s
Suné Luus 15 1 249 58 17.78 54.96 1
Lara Goodall 12 2 226 59* 22.60 53.55 2
Trisha Chetty 10 2 126 31 15.75 63.95 0
Andrie Steyn 6 0 123 52 20.50 54.66 1
Anneke Bosch 1 0 5 5 5.00 55.55 0
Tazmin Brits 1 0 2 2 2.00 11.11 0

 

In early 2021, while regular skipper Dané van Niekerk was recuperating from injury, Goodall made a good account of herself in the top four during South Africa’s tour to India. Through the five-match ODI series, she scored 125 runs at an average over 41. While her form dipped after that series, and she went on to lose her place following van Niekerk’s return, Goodall had shown plenty of resilience and improvement as a top order batter – her efforts even earning her a maiden central contract.

With van Niekerk slotted in at No.4, Luus took her regular position at No.3, and it seemed South Africa had a strong and very steady batting unit in place. Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt, their prolific opening pair, were in sublime touch and the experience of Luus, van Niekerk, Marizanne Kapp, Mignon du Preez and Chloé Tryon made for a strong middle-order. However, van Niekerk’s injury threw those plans into disarray.

Hilton Moreeng and co. thus used the home series against West Indies to test potential candidates – Goodall, Bosch and Steyn – for the No.3 position, with Luus sliding down to No.4.

Of the group, it was Steyn who put in a strong performance in the final ODI scoring 52 off 73 balls in a chase. The right-hander, however, was not included in South Africa’s selected 15, and has only made her way to New Zealand as a traveling reserve.

Come the opening game of their campaign against Bangladesh, the Proteas were without Lee who had not yet joined the squad. Instead, Brits took her spot at the top of the order, with the left-handed Goodall slotting in at No.3. The pair returned scores of 8 and 12, respectively, struggling to rotate the strike through their knocks and piling the pressure on Wolvaardt at the other end.

Through the contributions of the lower middle-order, South Africa managed to post a total of 207, but the slow start had set them back heavily.

The Proteas’ second game of the tournament against Pakistan saw the return of Lee at the top. Contrary to expectation, it was Brits who made her way to No.3 – a position in which she had never played in before. Unfortunately for her, the right-hander struggled to make an impact, being dismissed for just two: caught behind off Diana Baig.

It was through half-centuries from Wolvaardt and Luus, and some handy contributions from Tryon and Chetty, that South Africa managed to push their score to 223 for 9 – below par, but just enough on the day.

While it is still early days in the tournament, South Africa’s batting has so far left a lot to be desired. The shaky starts have led to questions around their ideal line up and whether the skipper herself should move into her regular No.3 position.

For one, she has form on her side and after her knock in the previous match, certainly some confidence too. But it seems the skipper is keen to back her players to find some runs in the coming games.

“I back the unit we have at the moment. Cricket is a funny game, and you only need that one innings to get the ball rolling again. I think the team, and especially the players [who are] hungry for runs, I think if you keep backing them, you know they’ll back themselves,” Luus said in the pre-match press conference on Sunday, 13 March.

“We’ve been winning games with only a couple of batters getting runs, so I’m really excited for tomorrow and the rest of the tournament for the team to really dial in and the batting unit to really come together.”

Having already experienced the conditions in Tauranga, Momentum Proteas will hope to use that to their advantage when they come up against defending champions England.

It will be a keenly contested game where England’s experienced bowlers will most certainly challenge South Africa’s batting line up, but if the openers get on a roll, the rest of the line-up may just click into gear, including their No.3!

 

Photo 1 Caption: After two close wins over Bangladesh and Pakistan to kick off their ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup campaign, the Momentum Proteas will be hoping to maintain their winning run in their next match against England in Mount Maunganui on Monday, 14 March 2022. Photo: ICC Cricket World Cup (Twitter)

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