SA duo Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp light up the WPL in India

Shabnim Ismail of South Africa celebrates with teammates after bowling out Georgia Wareham playing in the final game of the ICC T20 Women's World Cup at the Newlands cricket stadium

Shabnim Ismail is the Proteas’ leading wicket taker across both ODIs and T20Is, and is back in full swing playing for Mumbai Indians in the second season of the WPL. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 28, 2024


They may no longer share the new ball for the Proteas Women’s team, but South African superstars Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp are burning up the Women’s Premier League in India.

Ismail, who retired from international cricket last year after the Women’s T20 World Cup as the Proteas’ leading wicket taker across both ODIs and T20Is, is back in full swing playing for Mumbai Indians in the second season of the WPL.

The 35-year-old fast bowler has made an immediate impression at her new team, by ripping through the Gujarat Titans top order, which included Australian superstar Beth Mooney, to finish with an impressive 3-18 from her four overs.

“I obviously retired from international cricket a couple of months ago, but I still have the passion and fire within me to play cricket, and be one of the best in the world. Because I firmly believe that I am, so it’s up to me to put in the hard yards behind the scenes and I’m doing that really well,” Ismail said.

Not much game time

“It’s all down to commitment. It is never easy.

“I played for UP Warriorz last year, and I never got much game time. For the person that I am, and the experience that I bring to the team, we never had a frontline bowler, but it is what is.

“I was actually happy to be released by the UP Warriorz, and hoping that someone picked me up in the draft, so I could just come out and display my talent.

“That’s what I am doing at the moment, and having fun.”

After opening the bowling together for the national team for more than a decade, Ismail and Kapp formed a lasting bond. And it was Kapp that sent out an emotional post on social media after Ismail’s performance that read: “Yeas partner !!!! How I miss opening the bowling with you!”

Kapp, 34, however, showed that she remains an equally potent force in the power play with an outrageous spell that consisted of four overs, 19 dot balls, five runs, and three wickets for Delhi Capitals in their big win over Ismail’s former team UP Warriorz

Kapp’s spell was the joint most economical since the advent of the WPL.

Her delivery to Australian star Tahlia McGrath was one made in heaven – a back-of-a-length delivery that pitched on middle stump before shaping away just enough to hit the top of the off-stump.

Putting in the hard yards

Having bowled her full complement of four on the trot up front, Kapp feels that’s where she us at her best.

“It is something I have been working on, just hitting my natural back of a length and it seemed to work out there,” Kapp said

“I am better off bowling with the new ball. We always look to give me as much overs with the new ball, especially when it’s going well.

“I feel like with these teams you want to keep on attacking, especially if you have one or two wickets down. We have some very good death bowlers, so that allows me to bowl up front more with the new ball.”

Kapp is fresh off a sensational tour of Australia where she virtually single-handedly helped the Proteas team make history by winning both a T20 and ODI against the double world champions for the first time.

However, the wins were largely due to the all-rounder’s phenomenal performances with the bat, and she is glad that she is now also back to her best in her primary bowling role.

“The last couple of months I haven’t been too happy with my bowling,” Kapp said, “so I went back and put in a bit of work, changed one or two things, and am glad that it has worked out.”