Talented Western Province all-rounder, Shandre Fritz, admits she was surprised when she heard she had been appointed new national women’s cricket captain.
Fritz takes over the captaincy from Alison Hodgkinson, who last led the team at the 2005 Women’s Cricket World Cup, held in Potchefstroom.
“I was flabbergasted,” Fritz told gsport on hearing the news. “I didn’t know what to say, I was speechless. I thought I would maybe get the vice-captaincy, but I never thought I’d actually get the captaincy, because I’m still so young.”
The 21-year-old Stellenbosch University student couldn’t have asked for a better time to be appointed, as women’s cricket gets its house in order in South Africa.
“The girls were a bit disheartened after the last World Cup when we did so poorly, and then not playing any cricket since then…
“Now, all of a sudden, everything is happening. It’s about time. It’s good for the game and good for the ladies.”
South Africa’s first big assignment comes in January, 2007, when they host the Pakistan women’s team in a five-match ODI series.
Fritz says the whole team is really excited: “All the girls can’t wait to get into the international arena again. People think we are below par. To an extent, it’s true. I think there is so much more that we, as a team, are capable of.”
Fritz’ good friend and KwaZulu-Natal captain Johmari Logtenberg has been appointed vice-captain for the series against Pakistan.
Of the 17-year-old she says: “We already get on very well. They often room us together. The two of us always stay behind when everyone goes back in after training, and we discuss the game. We are good team mates as well.”
The new captain is thankful for the strong coaching and support staff she will have around her.
“Our coach Noor Rhode is a brilliant guy for the job. He’s been in women’s cricket for so many years. He’s really been working behind the scenes, trying to get us together, trying to get us more camps. He is so dedicated,” said Fritz.
She also paid tribute to South Africa’s assistant coach, former national captain Kim Price.
“Kim knows what its like to play at the top level. With Noor as their coach, she and her SA team reached the semi-finals of the World Cup a few years back. She really knows what its all about.
“She puts a lot of effort into the clubs; funding-wise she does so much. She breathes cricket and lives it. I’m privileged to have her as my provincial coach, national coach and friend.”
Fritz is a dynamic young cricketer, who admires the mental and technical toughness of Jacques Kallis, and can’t imagine her life without sport.
She plays cricket during the summer, is studying towards a teaching degree, intending to specialise in psychology, and plays hockey during the off-season.
More than anything else, she desperately wants South Africa to qualify for the 2009 Women’s Cricket World Cup, and she is confident that the team can do it.
“A lot of us have been doing extra work. We’ve got programs we’ve been working on. We’re working hard at our provinces. The level has definitely stepped up a lot, and there’s lots of competition for places.
“We can do it,” said a confident Fritz. “I still think that we are underestimated as a country, but purely because we haven’t had as much playing time as the other countries.”