CAPE TOWN – During these uncertain Covid times there will undoubtedly still be many twists and turns, highs and lows, ebbs and flows on the way to next year’s World Cup.
But the Proteas’ Womens’ team begin their journey to far-away New Zealand at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua on Tuesday.
After their tear-jerking semi-final exit at both the last 2017 World Cup in England and the T20 World Cup in Australia 18 months ago, Hilton Moreeng’s team have sworn to go one step further in the land of the long white cloud.
It is a pledge that this group of players have undertaken collectively, especially as the majority still carry the scars of both Bristol and Sydney.
They certainly returned post the Covid-19 hiatus at the beginning of the year revitalised, playing with a new-found enterprise and with a certain amount of flair that has particularly been refreshing.
The fact that series victories over Pakistan (home) and India (away) were achieved without seniors such as captain Dane van Niekerk and Chloe Tryon was even more satisfying with new faces such as Lara Goodall, Tazmin Brits and Anneke Bosch creating the sort of quality depth that championship-winning teams are built upon.
The upcoming five-match series against the Windies is the first time that Moreeng has had his entire squad – bar Bosch who remained at home with an ankle injury – together for almost two years.
It will be the ideal opportunity to see how certain players fit into their respective roles and understanding of the gameplans now that everyone is available.
The preceding T20I series may have closed off on a whimper with the Proteas sharing the series after going down by seven wickets in the decider at the Sir Vivian Richards Ground on Saturday, but that should not dent the team’s confidence ahead of the five-match ODI series.
“One bad game doesn’t define a bad team. There are a lot of positives (taken from the T20I series). Unfortunately the first game rained out, it would have been nice to see how that turned out,” Van Niekerk said.
“We need to take the positives from the T20s, but that’s out of the window now. We need to concentrate on the longer format. The team is quite confident and comfortable with its game plans in the longer format. It’s going to be exciting with the skill on display.”
The Proteas were without fast bowler Shabim Ismail and Goodall for the duration of the T20I series with the duo recovering from a couple of niggles, but they both should be ready for the one-dayers.
Ismail’s return will certainly be a boost to the Proteas’ bid in winning their first series in the Caribbean as the veteran fast bowler certainly adds a cutting edge to the bowling unit.