Cricket South Africa have called up an 18-woman squad to the High Performance Centre for a camp starting on Friday evening, in advance of selecting a 14-woman squad for the World Cup qualifiers in Pakistan in November.
The ICC has arranged two 2008 ICC Women’s World Cup qualifier series, where a total of 16 teams will vie for four World Cup berths, and South Africa have been invited as a top-ranking team in the Pakistani qualifiers.
Since their disappointing form in South Africa’s 2006 Cricket World Cup, the national women’s team has been on the up, and will be looking to improve their status as the world’s seventh-placed international women’s cricket team.
The women Proteas played to an emphatic 4-0 white-wash over the touring Pakistani team in January, and the European tour just ended in August saw South Africa win the historic one-off four-day test against Netherlands, beat the Dutch three-nil in a ODI series, and win both their limited overs encounters against England A.
Looking to qualify for the 2008 World Cup in Australia, South Africa have been drawn in Pool A of the Women’s World Cup qualifiers alongside Holland, Bermuda and Papua New Guinea, and should expect to top the table after the conclusion of the preliminary round.
The knock-out semi-final matches will likely bring South Africa into play against the two better teams in Pool B, which includes Ireland, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Scotland. Should they progress to the final, SA will join their opponents as one of two teams to secure a World Cup berth.
"November will be a very exciting month for women’s cricket as this event will be the inaugural women’s event under the ICC umbrella," said Betty Timmer, Chairperson of ICC Women’s Committee.
"It is also an important phase of development for the women’s game for Papua New Guinea, Bermuda and Zimbabwe as it will be their first appearances at the WWCQ," she said.
Speaking to gsport, national convenor Geraldine Smith expressed happiness with the numbers to choose from. "There are new people coming in, and we are very honoured to have them there, because we like to see new talent, and we like to see people coming through the ranks, and doing their job, so we want to give them an opportunity," said Smith.
With the exception of Lonell de Beer, who has made the difficult decision to retire, the current squad will be joined by three players from Western Province, who demonstrated their tenacity to beat favourites Boland in the season’s Inter-Provincial leagues.
Alexis le Breton joins her captain Olivia Anderson as two cricketers whose on-field achievements make them irresistible for a national squad try-out, and they will be joined by provincial team-mate Shandre Fritz, who was named captain of the national squad a year ago, before a dreadful neck injury ruled her out before the Pakistan tour commenced.
"I have spoken to the biokineticist Claire Cowan," said Smith, "And she is very glad about [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Fritz’s] performance, [Cowan] said she is back to 120%, so I’m sure she would give 200% at this stage, to get into the squad."
Despite Fritz’s return, Smith had no hesitation in confirming her continued faith in Cri-Zelda Brits, who took over from Fritz, and has had a tremendous season in charge.
"We are very happy with Cri-Zelda’s performance, and her contribution to the cricket," continued Smith. "I don’t see how we can axe somebody who’s been doing her job. We are happy with Cri-Zelda’s performance."
Also joining the WP hopefuls are Danisha Devnarain from KwaZulu-Natal, and Marizaan Kapp of the Eastern Cape.
The 18-Woman National Cricket Squad:
1. Cri-Zelda Brits
2. Johmari Logtenberg
3. Susan Benade
4. Trisha Chetty
5. Ashlyn Kilowan
6. Marcia Letsoalo
7. Sunette Loubser
8. Annelie Minnie
9. Alicia Smith
10. Daleen Terblanche
11. Olivia Anderson
12. Alexis le Breton
13. Danisha Devnarain
14. Chandre Fritz
15. Marizanne Kapp
Not Available for Camp:
1. Charlize van der Westhuizen
2. Claire Terblanche
3. Mignon du Preez