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Moreeng: ‘You can only imagine what it would mean to reach World Cup final’

Tiisetso Malepa Sports reporter
Hilton Moreeng has another opportunity to guide SA to their first World Cup final after losing in the semifinals in 2017 and at the 2020 Twenty20 World Cup.
Hilton Moreeng has another opportunity to guide SA to their first World Cup final after losing in the semifinals in 2017 and at the 2020 Twenty20 World Cup.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

SA coach Hilton Moreeng is proud of his squad after they advanced to the semifinals of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand and said reaching the final, and potentially winning it, would be a huge boost for women’s cricket in the country.

Moreeng’s team progressed to the last four by winning five of their seven group stage matches, losing one with another ending in a no-result, to set up a repeat of the 2017 semifinal against England.

SA face defending champions England at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Thursday (starts 3am SA time).

“What has impressed us a lot is how the team responded when they were put under pressure by different teams and conditions,” Moreeng said.

“At times the conditions didn’t suit the style that we play and the players had to make sure that they adapted as quickly as possible.

“At times we had game situations where the game was running away from us and the players had to pull it back, whether with the ball or the bat.”

Moreeng was coach when SA lost their semifinal against hosts and eventual winners England in Bristol five years ago. He has retained the spine of that team, including Laura Wolvaardt, Lizelle Lee, Trisha Chetty, Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Chloe Tryon, Suné Luus, Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka, and SA's experience has shown in New Zealand.

Moreeng said the Proteas will never forget the day England shattered their dreams on July 18 2017, a day that has special meaning for SA and their fast bowler Khaka.

“Most of the players who played in that match are here today and know how it felt. It was on Madiba Day in SA and we’ll never forget it because it was also Ayabonga Khaka’s birthday,” he said.

“It was one of those things where as a team we learnt of a lot. It was tough on the players, the country and the supporters.

“It was one of those that broke the nation down. You learn from such things and as we say in sport, no two days are alike.

“The players know what is coming and the magnitude of the team we are playing against. For us what is important is to make sure that on the day we execute.

“For me it would be a great achievement because we started working on this project and everyone was on board from the first day, and we’ve seen how they have matured as cricketers.

“They represent the country by playing in various leagues around the world.”

Moreeng thanked Cricket SA (CSA) and the team's sponsor, financial services provider Momentum, for investing in women’s cricket.

“Back then when I started there were not a lot of people who supported and believed in us. Momentum came on board and from there onwards you could see how the team started to grow and have belief.

“Through that the players have worked hard. Even the management that we have now has come in and added so much value to these cricketers. Winning the World Cup or getting into the final is one step — the one that eluded us in 2017 would be special.

“The players are focused to make sure that we win a cricket match and you can only imagine what it will be for them as players, and what victory would do to women’s cricket in our country. It would be immense.”

Six-time world champions Australia play West Indies in the first semifinal in Wellington in the early hours of Wednesday morning, SA time.

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