A new chapter will be added to women’s cricket history tomorrow (Saturday,28 July 2007) when South Africa take on the Netherlands in a four-day one-off Test in Hazelaarweg, Rotterdam.
The first-ever Test between the two teams will be followed by three ODI’s in Amstelveen, Utrecht and Deventer on 2, 4 and 5 August respectively, and will form a key part of their preparations for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Lahore in November.
That event, which will also involve Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Bermuda, Ireland, Scotland and Zimbabwe will see the top two line-ups qualify for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, set to take place in Australia in 2009.
South Africa last played international cricket earlier this year hosting Pakistan for five ODIs, winning 4-0 with the last match rained off. The Netherlands’ last series was in August 2006 when they traveled to Dublin for two ODI‘s against Ireland, losing both matches, by 78 runs and 133 runs respectively.
The two teams have met only once at international level and on that occasion South Africa won by four wickets in Women’s Cricket World Cup match in Christchurch in December 2000.
On that basis the teams will have very limited knowledge of each other but with both line-ups set to meet again in Lahore, the importance of these matches is obvious.
Proteas captain Cri-Zelda Brits said her players prepared for the trip by practicing at Supersport Park in Centurion are in a positive mood and are looking forward to the Netherlands tour.
“It’s quite an exciting tour as most of the players have never been to the Netherlands before and will be going to unfamiliar territory. I have played some club cricket in the Netherlands, so the conditions and the opposition’s strengths will not be new to me.”
Brits said the Lahore event remained the team’s most important focus but she emphasized that this did not reduce the significance of other series.
“The Lahore event is definitely the most important of all, seeing that we need to qualify for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in Australia in 2009.
“However, we won’t downplay the importance of any other away tours. As a team we have spoken and worked long and hard on where we are and what we’d like to achieve.
“It is vital that we compete at the top level as much as possible to give ourselves exposure to that standard of cricket.
"And as for this tour, it gives us a perfect chance to see where we are in terms of world cricket and what we need to work on before the qualifiers.
Brits said she is unsure what to expect from the Dutch when the two teams go head-to-head.
“Yes, it’s hard to tell because they haven’t been such an active touring side lately.
"I am aware they have had a few withdrawals which means they have a fairly young side but we won’t underestimate any international side and therefore, we are just preparing to play tough opponents, as we would at all times."
The ladies left for Holland on Wednesday night, where they will stay until 6 August 2007 before heading off to England to play in two ODI’s and two T20 matches against England and New Zealand.
Since the victorious Pakistan tour in January, the squad has attended two camps, where the players were put through stringent training program.
The South African Women’s Cricket Squad is:
Cri-Zelda Brits (Captain)
Johmari Logtenberg (Vice-Captain)
Mignon Du Preez
Lonell De Beer
Zola Thamae (Team Manageress)
Noor Rhode (Coach)
Kim Price (Assistant Coach)
Dale Brookstein (Video Analyst)