Polokwane – Like many other girls from her neighbourhood in the Eastern Cape, Proteas Women's wicket-keeper Sinalo Jafta's introduction to the game of cricket was through the KFC Mini-Cricket Programme.
Little did she know that a journey that started at Komga Junior School and that has taken her via Potchefstroom and Cape Town will hopefully go all the way to New Zealand for next year's ICC Women's World Cup.
"I have never been to a World Cup. I don't know what it's like. Just making the squad would be my biggest achievement. It would be amazing. It is something that I have always missed out on before and it's not happening this time!" Jafta said at Cricket SA's KFC Mini-Cricket seminar.
The 26-year-old is currently the understudy to veteran keeper Trishy Chetty in the Proteas Women's squad, although she quickly points out that "I am not a reserve keeper. I am the other keeper."
🏏 A highly successful first day of the KFC Mini-Cricket National Seminar with everyone involved raring to Be Part Of The Recovery— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) October 5, 2021
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Jafta's performances whenever she has been afforded an opportunity certainly proved that she could be the Proteas' No 1 wicket-keeper in the Land of the Long Cloud next year.
She is always neat behind the stumps, whether it's standing back to the fast bowlers or up at the stumps when the spinners are in operation. Equally, she is a bundle of energy when batting, allowing her to make a couple of solid contributions in the last two ODI's against the West Indies on the recent Caribbean tour.
Does she feel aggrieved that she is not starting every game and what's the relationship like with Chetty?
"Trish and I are very close. She's told me that we both deserve to play, it's just on the day that they have to pick one. I am loving the challenge and the opportunities that I do get. I've told the coach that I am going to take every opportunity that comes my way. And obviously there will be times when you don't do as well as you would have liked, but it's just about your attitude," Jafta said.
"I pride myself on being a good teammate. Off the field I am buzzing and that's something I will always do because I know am needed both on and off the field. I stay switched on mentally because any day I could be playing."
Jafta is definitely part of a new generation of women's cricketers that will take the Proteas team beyond next year's World Cup. At this stage, though, she doesn't want to think too far ahead and is just focusing on the great success the team has achieved since the resumption of women's cricket post lockdown.
"It's a brilliant wave and none of us want to get off it. But we have spoken about it that there will come a time when it dries up, but we don't don't want to think about it because we are working very hard to be where we are. It's crazy!"