U16 Spin Queen Neliswa Dlamini Sets Sights on Momentum Proteas

The CSA U16 Cricket Week’s most prolific wicket taker and aspirant Momentum Proteas cricketer Neliswa Dlamini hopes to represent her country and to play in various T20is around the world as she sets are eyes on global accomplishment. Photo: Sandile Lukhele (Twitter)

Aspiring Momentum Protea, Neliswa Dlamini hopes to represent her country and to play in various T20is around the world as she sets are eyes on global accomplishment. 

Ntumbane born, Dlamini started playing mini cricket at a tender age, and was later introduced to hardball cricket by her teacher and #gsport16 Volunteer of the Year, Sandile Lukhele and coach, Simiso Dlamini in grade 6. 

The 15-year-old, who is part of the Mpumalanga Rhino U16 team, draws inspiration from fellow Ntumabane-born and now Mpumalanga Senior Women’s team player, Ntokozo Mzizi, as well as Momentum Protea, Nonkululeko Mlaba. 

Earlier this month, Dlamini took 10 wickets in 4 games for her Mpumalanga side at the CSA Girls U16 Week in Gqeberha, making her the highest wicket taker in her squad. 

Speaking to Refiloe Sefume, Dlamini, shares her experience at the CSA Girls U16 Week and her aspirations for her cricket career. 


Thank you Neliswa for taking the time to speak with me. Tell us about yourself and how you got involved in cricket? 

Hi Refiloe, thank you for having me. My name is Neliswa Dlamini from Piet Retief. I’m from a rural village called Ntumbane, just on the borderline of Mpumalanga and KZN. I started playing cricket at a very young age as a mini cricket player until grade 6, when I was introduced to hardball cricket by my teacher, Sandile Lukhele, and coach Simiso Dlamini, at Esinqeni Primary School.


What do you enjoy about cricket? 

Yhoo! I enjoy a lot of things about cricket, mostly being surrounded by my teammates. I love the way cricket players are united and disciplined both on and off the field. I also love the fact that we have to constantly make decisions about where to place your next delivery and where to place your fielders, I find it fascinating, well, and not forgetting the travelling! Lol 


What kind of bowler do you consider yourself? 

I consider myself a spin bowler. My coach says I am an off spinner; I still have a lot to learn around spin bowling and its variations, but for now, I just want to land the ball on the right areas and have a bit of turn.


Who do you look up to? 

Lol! I don’t watch a lot of cricket because I don’t have DSTV at home, so I don’t have a cricket role model from TV, but, as I was growing up, I used to look up to the local boys who played cricket at a soccer field close to my home. This was until Ntokozo Mzizi from my area made the Mpumalanga Senior Women’s team as a spin bowler and a batter, whom I started looking up to and imitating. But lately, I also enjoy and look up to Nonkululeko Mlaba because she is a spin bowler for the Proteas and has a rural background just like me.


You just competed at the CSA Girls U16 Week, where you picked up 10 wickets in 4 games. How was the experience? 

The experience at the U16 Girls National Week was amazing and very challenging at the same time; the conditions were awkward but offered a bit of turn for the spin. I am very grateful to my coaches for the opportunity and my teammates for their support. I played about 5 games but in one game I was substituted because I had a terrible headache and a stomachache, so I ended up playing 4 proper games and taking 4 wickets on two consecutive occasions and 2 in two other games. It was a great feeling, to have a total of 10 wickets on such a big stage and it melts my heart; I am thankful to God and the team.


What has been your greatest achievement in cricket so far? 

My greatest achievement in cricket so far is taking 10 wickets at the National Week in Gqeberha where the weather conditions were very challenging and helping my team to win 3 out of 5 games, drawing 1 and losing 1. Overall, I think we did well, and I am proud to achieve these results with the team.


How do you balance your schoolwork and cricket? 

It’s a bit hard to strike a proper balance between schoolwork, cricket practices and games, but our coaches encourage us to manage our time properly because we don’t want to drop performance on either school or cricket, so with the help of my coaches, teachers, and family I am able to balance the two.


As an athlete you need to stay fit, what does training look like for you? 

Fitness is the most important part of being an athlete. As a cricketer, you need to be fit in order to run quickly in between wickets, to take crucial catches, stop runs and bowl longer spells, to achieve that you need to be very committed to your training. To tell you the truth, I am a bit lazy in that area, but I am grateful to my coaches who push us hard to achieve the required fitness levels, especially coach Mzwandile Ndlela and coach Simiso Dlamini who ensured that we were ready for our Provincial games. Training happens whenever they come to train us and do those fitness tests on us, so for me, training is running hard, practising catches, bowling, and doing well on the fitness tests. 


Who is part of your support system? 

My support system includes a lot of people, and I thank God for them. It includes my family, whom I love so much – my sister Andiswa who also plays for the Mpumalanga U19 Girls, my aunt and granny who are always there for me, my teammates from Ntumbane and my coaches Simiso and Mzwa. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today, and not forgetting my teacher and coach, sir Sandile Lukhele who introduced cricket in our area and keeps opening doors for us. Today I can boldly say I boarded a plane for the first time, I played for the provincial team at National Week for the first time and I did well all thanks to him and coach Freedom Buthelezi who gave me the opportunity and opened doors for me and teammates… thank you!


In your spare time, what do you get up to? 

In my spare time I play a lot with my friends, I still enjoy playing on the outfield with the mud, lol and make stupid jokes, my aunt and granny sometimes ask for my help with the house chores, and then I make sure I bowl at least one over daily so that I do not forget my line and length. 


Do you have dreams to play cricket professionally? 

Yes!  One day I would like to play for the Mpumalanga Senior Women’s team and then make the SA U19 team as well as the Momentum Proteas, travelling the world, representing my country.


What ambitions do you have regarding cricket? 

I am very ambitious when it comes to cricket; I feel like girls and women’s cricket is the future, so I want to stick around and fight for my place next year in the U16 provincial team, try for the U19 Senior Women’s team and the Momentum Proteas, and even the T20 leagues around the world, so yes! Not even the sky is the limit for me.


What other dreams do you have for yourself?

Well, I am still young, I’m 15 years of age, doing grade 9 and looking forward to grade 10 next year. Making the Mpumalanga U16 team again is the priority. I would just like to make my family, my sisters, aunt, granny and my hometown, Piet Retief proud. I am hoping that one day I will use cricket to change my home situation and to improve my family finances. I would love to build my family a home one day and make my granny proud. I hope I make my village, Ntumbane proud as well, and come back to give back to my community and to help develop girls cricket. Thank you to coach Sandile Lukhele, gsport for the opportunity and for telling the world that indeed we play cricket in the rural areas, thank you Refiloe!!


Photo 1 Caption: The CSA U16 Cricket Week’s most prolific wicket taker and aspirant Momentum Proteas cricketer Neliswa Dlamini hopes to represent her country and to play in various T20is around the world as she sets are eyes on global accomplishment. Photo: Sandile Lukhele (Twitter)


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About the Author:

Refiloe Sefume

Refiloe Sefume

I am a final year accounting student at the University of Johannesburg. I have a passion for sport and would like to pursue a career in the Sports Industry.

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