After a gruelling few months of preparation, South Africa women’s head coach Hilton Moreeng feels his team has given itself “a good chance” ahead of the trip to India for five T20Is and three ODIs.
“The preparation building up to the India tour has been very good,” Moreeng said. “Playing Bangladesh [in the emerging series] was important because we will face similar bowlers in India.”
The South Africa emerging side went down 2-1 to Bangladesh Emerging Players in the one-dayers, but won the three-match T20 series 2-0, with the third match tied. Trisha Chetty topped the batting charts with 153 runs at 51.00 in the one-dayers, while medium-pacer Tumi Sekhukhune shone in the T20s, taking seven wickets at just 9 and an economy of 5.25. Both have been included in South Africa’s touring party.
Several members of the national squad took part in the emerging series, as well as spending time at the National Academy in Pretoria. More recently, they came together for a ten-day training camp in Pietermaritzburg to firm up plans ahead of the tour.
“In Maritzburg, we also practised in slow and low conditions,” Moreeng explained. “The planning has been spot on, now it’s about execution in those tough conditions. But we have given ourselves a good chance.”
The trip to India forms an important part of South Africa’s preparations for next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, while the three ODIs will provide valuable game time ahead of crunch fixtures in the ICC Women’s Championship (IWC), away against New Zealand and at home against Australia.
Allrounder Sune Luus will be captaining both ODI and T20I sides during the India tour, with regular captain Dane van Niekerk having suffered a recurrence of the foot injury – that had kept her out of much of the home summer – during a recent stint in the Kia Super League in England.
“It will be very exciting to see how things go in India where we are playing against one of the top teams and in their conditions,” Moreeng said. “If we can do well, I think it can set us up nicely for the season ahead, including our IWC series against New Zealand in January.
“Maritzburg was very good for us. It was sort of a pre-season for us as a team. A lot of the focus was on skill work, not just at the camp but throughout the pre-season at all the different levels. It’s very important for us to improve. We want to have a better season ahead, thus the camps and all the planning.”
The South Africans endured a poor 2018 T20 World Cup in the West Indies, where they failed to progress to the knockouts. This time around, they will be aiming for much better and the trip to India will aid those preparations.
“The bigger picture is always the World Cup,” Moreeng said. “Knowing what is coming, how you’re going to test yourself there against a very good team that knows the conditions well. This tour to India will also be about giving youngsters an opportunity knowing that you want to continue growing the team because we know that World Cups are going to come thick and fast now. The IWC is also crucial. It’s two-fold for us.”
Moreeng believes his squad is now in a much better space in terms of depth compared to 12 months ago. The touring party was named on Monday with unfamiliar faces like Anneke Bosch – who last played for her country nearly three years ago – and the uncapped Nonkululeko Mlaba included. There was also a return for senior players Ayabonga Khaka and Chetty after injuries.
“The youngsters are coming through and I think we can safely say that we have three players per position that are competing,” Moreeng said. “This puts us in a better position compared to where we were 12 months ago.
“We also have to look at 2021 when there’s another 50 overs World Cup, so have to be thinking long-term. The youngsters coming through also have a great opportunity to play alongside the experienced girls in the squad. Remember some of these girls are playing in T20 leagues and lining up alongside these players is of huge benefit. It’s a really exciting time for young girls to be involved in cricket.”
T20I squad: Sune Luus (capt), Anneke Bosch, Tasmin Brits, Nadine de Klerk, Shabnim Ismail, Sinalo Jafta, Ayabonga Khaka, Lara Goodall, Lizelle Lee, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tumi Sekhukhune, Nondumiso Shangase, Mignon du Preez, Lara Wolvaardt
ODI squad: Sune Luus (capt), Anneke Bosch, Trisha Chetty, Nadine de Klerk, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Lara Goodall, Marizanne Kapp, Lizelle Lee, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tumi Sekhukhune, Nondumiso Shangase, Mignon du Preez, Lara Wolvaardt