This time last week South Africa were in good place‚ and in more than one sense.
But‚ seven days on‚ that’s no longer the case for Dané van Niekerk and her team.
It’s difficult not to feel good about life when you’re in Barbados‚ where the sun almost always shines‚ there’s a beach around every corner‚ and the locals are as welcoming as the cocktails are expensive.
And‚ when you’re up in a one-day series with a game to play‚ you feel better yet.
That’s the case even when Bridgetown has one of its rare sunless days‚ which happened last Wednesday when the second of three ODIs was washed out after South Africa had slipped to 177/8 in their 38 overs.
Van Niekerk scored 53 but Chloe Tryon’s 37 was the only other effort of more than 25.
Lacklustre batting was again the issue in the third game‚ also at Kensington Oval‚ on Saturday.
Despite Marizanne Kapp’s 4/52 the Windies racked up 292/2 with opener Hayley Matthews hammering 117‚ her maiden ODI century.
Nothing like it was seen in the South Africans’ reply‚ which spluttered to an end in the 43rd over with only 177 on the board.
Laura Wolvaardt made 54 and Van Niekerk 77‚ and they shared 108 for the third wicket. Thing is‚ no-one else reached double figures and only three other partnerships did.
Rather a drawn series than a defeat‚ Van Niekerk was told kindly‚ and rightly dismissed that kind of thinking.
“Hmm‚ that’s interesting … I don’t know‚” Van Niekerk said‚ and followed that with a Freudian slip that belied her disappointment: “It’s not nice to lose an ODI series like this‚ especially by such a massive margin.”
She added that “the extras column was horrible”. And it was — 35 of the damned things‚ 31 of them wides.
The teams met again on Monday in the first of five T20s‚ when South Africa could come up with only 107/7 after restricting the home side to 124/6.
Kapp’s 22-ball 30 stood out in a scorecard in which Tryon’s 23 was the only other relative highlight.
Coach Hilton Moreeng conceded that South Africa’s batting problems had become chronic: “It’s snowballed and it’s something we need to rectify very quickly.”
Monday’s issues‚ as listed by Moreeng‚ have affected too many of South Africa’s performances in Barbados.
“We thought it was a total we should have been able to chase down‚” he said.
“We didn’t have enough partnerships to be able to set up a total. Our application was not up to par.”
There were mitigating factors on Monday in the shape of South Africa picking four debutants in batters Robyn Searle and Faye Tunnicliffe‚ fast bowler Tumi Sekhukhune and off-spinner Saarah Smith‚ and all of them just 19 except 21-year-old Searle.
And also in leaving out the dependable Van Niekerk and Suné Luus because of what Moreeng called “niggles”.
“The youngsters‚ especially in the first half‚ went very well‚” Moreeng said. “The way they bowled and fielded‚ you could see the energy was there.
“In the second half things didn’t go according to plan. As a youngster you can learn from that.”
The series moves to Trinidad on Saturday‚ when the second game will be played at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba‚ 52 kilometres from Port-of-Spain.
“A change of scenery is never a bad thing‚” Moreeng said.
Indeed. And it probably doesn’t hurt that Trinidad isn’t quite as touristy as Barbados — all the better an environment in which to work on what’s wrong with your game.