Key areas where the Proteas Women struggled in England

Sune Luus (right) and Lara Goodall weren’t at their best for the Proteas. Photo: John Mallett/ProSports/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Sune Luus (right) and Lara Goodall weren’t at their best for the Proteas. Photo: John Mallett/ProSports/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Published Jul 26, 2022


Johannesburg - IOL Sport’s Stuart Hess looks at some key areas that defined a very poor multi-format series for the Proteas against England.


It is clear that there is a big difference between the established players in the squad, and the younger ones. That gap will never be bridged, but South Africa has a big problem in that players are often only getting exposed at international level. The lack of a proper domestic structure, means players have to be given more time. “It is tough for us,’ said Laura Wolvaardt. “England and Australia have full-on domestic leagues. Their players are exposed to a high standard of cricket and a higher level of international players throughout the year. A lot of our girls are getting their first exposure to players of this high a level, international quality bowlers, playing on TV and playing in front of crowds. It is definitely a concern and something I hope people are looking at for the future.”


Her retirement was a massive blow not only in terms of what she brings as an explosive batter at the top of the order, but the ructions she caused about the reasons why, also upset the squad. Cricket SA’s new Director of Cricket, Enoch Nkwe is in the UK to meet both the men’s and women’s squads and Lee’s retirement is certainly on the agenda. Cricket SA has privately acknowledged that it would be foolish for the organisation to prevent or threaten to withhold a Non-objection Certificate as Lee claims. Somewhere there’s been a breakdown in communication.


What a magnificent cricketer she is, and she underlined that with one of the most brilliant Test innings of all time. Kapp’s bowling hasn’t been quite up to the standard that she’s set previously, but that standard is so incredibly high, it's understandable she’s slipped a little. But she’s batting better this year than at any stage in her career, and the Proteas were grateful for that in the Test match, and then in the One-Day series.


A historic occasion at Taunton with the Proteas playing their first Test in eight years. They certainly gave as good as they got and had England under pressure at certain times. Lee and Kapp with one Test match each were the only players in the starting side with any experience, and the lack of match play in the format came through in the second half of the Test. However, along with a bit of help from the weather and some glorious defensive batting from Tumi Sekhukhune, South Africa was able to emerge with a draw.


The multi-format series in which points are earned for each match - four for a Test win, two for a draw and two points for each win in the limited overs formats - certainly provides an examination of stamina, depth of personnel and mental strength. South Africa, had never played this kind of format, and it has shown limitations, in terms of selection and of course the strength in depth. England have mixed and matched different players across the three formats, something South Africa has tried, but because there aren’t sufficient players, many have been pushed to the limits.


It’s been a very difficult tour for the captain. She dealt with the World Cup pressure very well earlier this year, but it’s been different in England. Off the field, Lee’s retirement brought unnecessary distraction, and then the loss of Kapp, hasn’t helped either. In addition she’s got a finger injury which is preventing her from bowling, and her batting form has fallen off a cliff. Looks like she needs a break, but there’s still a few weeks of the Commonwealth Games to go.


Wolvaardt, Kapp and Chloe Tryon have been the mainstays for the Proteas. All play with self confidence and a clear plan. That kind of belief comes from experience. There is no doubt that Anneke Bosch, Nadine de Klerk and Lara Goodall have the ability to play at international level, but they need the experience, which creates self-belief. They can only that experience by playing against high quality opponents. It’s going to require patience.


There were a couple of highlights, but in general South Africa’s fielding is very, very bad. It’s reached a point where Nkwe in conjunction with head coach Hilton Moreeng, need to consider some kind of training camp before next year’s T20 World Cup


She blew away the Irish minnows, but has found the going harder against the more experienced English batters, in conditions that have been more favourable to batting. Remains a fiery competitor, but this hasn’t been her best tour. She’s struggled to maintain her pace and only the odd delivery has moved through the air or off the surface. Remains a critical part of the Proteas side, but will have to improve markedly ahead of the Commonwealth Games.


The Australians are the trend-setters in the women’s game and their aggressive policy, especially with the bat is something England is aiming to replicate. The South African players have mentioned wanting to take a page from England’s book and that’s good because they are not going to be a successful limited overs team unless they bat with more intensity. The Commonwealth Games may not be a priority event for the Proteas - next year’s T20 World Cup on home soil is - but how far behind the main contenders the team is in terms of the way it plays will be determined by what happens in Birmingham.