SA put runs‚ runs and more runs on their Christmas wishlist

SA senior women's national cricket team captain Dane van Niekerk.
SA senior women's national cricket team captain Dane van Niekerk.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi

Winning wasn’t everything for South Africa in their last match of the World T20 in St Lucia on Monday.

Their 30-run victory over Bangladesh meant they will go home having won two of their four matches — not enough to put them in the semi-finals.

But they have avoided the unedifying prospect of having to qualify for the 2020 tournament.

“I'm glad we dodged that bullet‚” Dané van Niekerk told reporters in St Lucia..

“We don't enjoy going to qualifiers. So to not go is a relief.”

Not that Monday’s result will ease the unhappiness of a team who know they have played below their potential.

“Obviously there’s relief to have won and get a bit of confidence‚” Van Niekerk said.

“But I think the team is still quite disappointed.

“I saw everybody’s faces after the game. There's a lot of disappointment around in the camp‚ and it’s going to hurt for a bit.”

In particular it will hurt the squad’s batting component. It is no accident that in the two games South Africa lost — against West Indies and England — they failed to reach 100.

Of the 38 batters South Africa sent to the crease at the WT20‚ 32 of whom were dismissed‚ only two scored 30 or more: Van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp‚ both against Sri Lanka.

Just one of South Africa’s totals was not in the bottom half of all those scored at the tournament and Kapp is their only representative in the top 20 runscorers‚ in 10th place.

Kapp and Van Niekerk featured in South Africa’s highest two partnerships‚ of 67 and 35‚ and one of them was involved in their next best stands‚ of 31 and an unbroken effort of 29.

India‚ who won all of their matches to top group A‚ put up four half-century stands‚ one of which grew to 134.

But not even four 50 partnerships could earn New Zealand a place in the semis.

Like South Africa they lost twice and are on the first plane home‚ not least because their bowlers let their batters down — they conceded 11 more runs than they scored.

So part of what will hurt the South Africans is that they made exactly the same amount of runs as they gave up — 372 — and that England got through to the final four having scored just one more than they conceded.

“It was just soft dismissals every single game‚ stuff we speak about that we just continually do‚” a rueful Van Niekerk said.

“We don’t rectify what we do wrong‚ and I think that was the most frustrating part.

“You speak about plans as batters and what you don’t want to do‚ but then you go out there and you do exactly that. We need to be more mentally strong.”

South Africa totalled 109/9 on Monday with Kapp’s 25 their top score. None of their bowlers took more than a wicket but only two of the seven used went for more than a run-a-ball.

Laura Wolvaardt‚ who for all her talent scored only 16 runs in three innings at the WT20‚ and Yolani Fourie were left out.

Shabnim Ismail‚ South Africa’s star bowler‚ was left out because of a torn hamstring.

Now what?

“Well‚ there's I think six of us going to the Big Bash League [in December]‚ which is brilliant training and preparation for the T20 cricket that’s coming up‚” Van Niekerk said.

“We've got Sri Lanka early next year‚ and I’m 100% sure nobody is going to sit around and have a good festive season.

“We know there's a lot of hard work for us. So we’ll see tomorrow and just give everybody their list to make sure that they cover everything when we get together.”

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