Most people in South Africa know that the Proteas are competing against Pakistan in the Test series, five ODI’s and Friday’s Pro20. Some even have tickets to the games.
But the majority of people in this country are unaware that the South African ladies cricket team have also been in action in a One Day International series against Pakistan; the ladies side that is.
These 5 ODI’s that they played have been very important games for the locals, as they serve as good preparation for their upcoming tours, and especially for the World Cup Qualifiers.
The ladies unfortunately had a very disappointing World Cup two years ago, which they also hosted.
I spoke to Shandre Fritz (SA ladies cricket captain) about their improvements since then, and where the ladies team hopes to be heading in the near future.
As Shandre says “The girls are definitely tougher,” and there seems to be a better vibe among the team right now.
They’re looking to improve their ranking within world cricket, “Definitely top four, definitely, and then hopefully turn semi-pro, that’s my biggest hope for us as a national side,” says Fritz.
What makes this such a tough challenge for the team, is that these goals require increased match practice, and for the team to get together more. And that obviously requires what some name the root of all evil – MONEY.
It is very difficult for the ladies to get sponsorships and to get exposure. For them, it’s a never ending circle. "Most of the ladies go back to jobs, and their studies.” For these women, it’s all a balancing act.
The provincial setup is also difficult for the players, as there is often no recovery time between games, in a domestic league consisting of 14 sides contesting two groups.
The teams play each other within their respective leagues, and then the top teams compete in semi-finals and a final. Sounds easy enough, but there is a catch.
Financial and time concerns often force these girls to play double-headers, travelling overnight to play their first game on a Saturday, and boarding the bus to the next game directly after play, to arrive in time for the next day’s match.
“So basically everything you have got, goes out into those two games. The team that basically keeps it together, and keeps their focus for the longest, wins it in the end.”
Shandre herself is recovering from a serious injury. When diving into a pool late last year, she skimmed the top of her head, and experienced a shooting pain in her left side.
Medical treatment showed that she had suffered nerve damage, and her 6th and 7th vertebrae shifted out of place. She also fractured the 6th, and doctors had to fuse the 6th and 7th vertebrae together.
Fitness is such a key part of their sport, and the South African ladies know that they lack in that area. For the upcoming tours they are going to be concentrating hard on their fitness.
“Fitness, fitness, fitness, that’s what we working on at the moment. The mental side is obviously as important. But I think just getting the fitness up will change a lot.”
One thing South African sport seems to be blessed with is all-round sportsmen, and the ladies cricket team is no exception.
This, according to Shandre, is one of their strengths. They have a couple of all-rounders in their team, just like the men’s team.
Another of their strengths is that they are a “very young side, so we can build for many years to come.”
There are also some seriously talented young ladies coming up through the ranks, and include Cri-Zelda Brits (stand-in captain) who made wonderful half-centuries against Pakistan in the 2nd and 3rd ODI’s.
Another is Johmari Logtenberg (the team’s vice-captain, whose technique has been likened to Jacques Kallis’), who made 186 runs in four matches at an average of 63, with her highest score of 103 not out.
Trisha Chetty from Kwa-Zulu Natal was also mentioned as one for the future, especially for her awesome fielding skills.
This Pakistan tour was a successful one for our girls. They won the 5 match series 4-0, with the final game being washed out. And they have more tours to look forward to.
“22nd July we leave for the Netherlands, we play a few games there and then we go to England to play their under 21’s. (Their) national side doesn’t want to play us, because they say we are too weak.
“November we go to Pakistan and India, and then next year March we go to Pakistan again for the qualifiers.”
We wish our girls the best of luck and are backing them all the way to qualify for the World Cup which will be held in Australia in two years time.