‘Like Australia without Lanning’ – Marizanne Kapp for SA leaving out Dane van Niekerk

As the hosts prepare for a must-win clash with the Australians at home at St George’s Park on Saturday night, Cup has called on South Africa’s senior players to compete against the title favourites. But she believed the absence of van Niekerk – and her wife – left a hole in the team.

“If you ask anybody, they’d be lying if they said no,” Kapp told ESPNcricinfo. “It’s like taking a Meg Lanning out of the Australian team. She’s certainly missed, but I think the girls have done well and now it’s up to the seniors to put their hands up.

“This past year has been extremely difficult for Dane. She’s been really struggling, she’s been working hard and to lose the end there, to the end, it really hurts her. She’s taken her time to try to get over it. It still hurts, I know when I talk to her she’s still sore but I think she’s doing well. It helps that she’s commentating so you feel like she’s still in the World Cup. Luckily now with the WPL she took it to a gig there so I think for her confidence it would be good to get back into the park.”

It has been a tumultuous time for the Cup after van Niekerk was left out of the World Cup squad for failing the 2km time trial element of the selection criteria while trying to come back from a broken ankle suffered more than a year ago. Kapp took leave from the team during the tri-series final against India to return home and rejoined the squad ahead of the World Cup, where van Niekerk now works as a commentator.

“It was tough, I’m not going to lie,” Kapp said. “But I think it was for all the girls. You never want distractions in and around your team, especially when you’re going into a big tournament like this. I was a little bit annoyed with the whole situation and all of that just because I felt like maybe I could have tackled a bit earlier and not in the middle of a series so I went home. But that’s in the past now and we’re moving on. We weren’t at our best but we’re sticking together as a team and I guess that’s sport and that’s life , so you just have to keep going and we have work to do.”

Above all was the WPL auction. Kapp heading to Delhi Capitals for Rs 1.5 crore (approx USD 183,000) and van Niekerk picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore for her base price of Rs 30 lakh (approx USD 37,000). Then came the announcement of the retentions for the Women’s Hundred, with the Oval Invincibles retaining Kapp but not van Niekerk, who has now registered for the draft.

In addition, Kapp was battling an illness that prevented her from training after Monday’s win until Friday. But he had a strong knock in the nets and a bowl on the eve of Saturday’s match. With her hometown of Gqeberha never having hosted an international women’s match, Kap said she was determined to play.

“It will be very special for me personally,” he said. “I’ve always been nagging them that I want to play at least one game at home before I retire one day, so it’s a big day and hopefully there will be a lot of people there tomorrow, so I’m really excited.

“Tomorrow might be a little bit tough, but hopefully I can go out there and play. The girls have prepared really well. So we know what we have to do tomorrow. It’s a big game for us as a team and then for me personally. I won’t I wanted to lose tomorrow so I came out today to train and see how I feel, but I’m definitely up for the challenge.”

South Africa were on edge after losing their opening match of the tournament to Sri Lanka, who are now second behind Australia in Group A with a game, New Zealand on Sunday, to play. South Africa face Bangladesh in their final group stage match, after which Sri Lanka, New Zealand and South Africa could potentially fall four points behind Australia. New Zealand, beaten by Australia and South Africa, defeated Bangladesh on Friday to give themselves hope, although the margin of their first two defeats took a significant hit to their clean sheet.

“We were so annoyed with ourselves,” Kapp said of the opening game loss. “If I’m honest, we were probably a bit relaxed going into that Sri Lanka game, especially after winning that tri-series. You don’t go out there not to perform well, but I think it was a bit of a wake-up call for us. and somehow we got to the World Cup a little later and now we have to pay for it. Luckily we brought it back in that second game. We’re still nowhere near playing our best cricket, so hopefully we can keep improving.”

South Africa have never beaten Australia in a T20I and Lanning’s side are unbeaten in this tournament. But Kapp dismissed that record, saying “tomorrow is a new day”. The last time the teams met in this format was in the previous edition of this tournament, in the rain-affected semi-final, which eventual champions Australia won by five runs.

Shelley Nitschke, Australia’s head coach, said: “They have nothing to lose so we expect them to throw everything at us and we have to make sure we are ready. They have some really damaging players, both with bat and ball. , that can take a game away from us and they have the support of the home crowd so we have to make sure we are on our game.”

Valkerie Baynes is editor-in-chief, women’s cricket, at ESPNcricinfo

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