De Klerk breakthrough offers glimpse at Proteas women's future

2020-03-06 17:10
Nadine de Klerk
Nadine de Klerk (AFP)

The Proteas women need look no further than Nadine de Klerk for a silver lining from their ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020 exit to Australia.

Having appeared just once in the World Cup against debutants Thailand, the 20-year-old all-rounder was plunged into the SCG spotlight and tasked with stepping in for a star in Marizanne Kapp.

De Klerk emerged with three for 19, taking the wickets of in-form Beth Mooney and pinch hitter Ash Gardner in successive overs, a red-letter day in her young career despite crushing defeat.

"That was really special. It was a very emotional day for me," said De Klerk.

"To find out I was playing on the morning and contribute so much to the game was such a confidence booster.

"Obviously it wasn't good enough to get the win for the team, but we can take a lot of positives and confidence from the performance.

"We had a good meeting in the morning. We wanted to bowl into the pitch and with Meg Lanning being so strong on the cut, we decided to bowl there to her and set the field accordingly. 

"The bowlers did brilliantly, they backed me up accordingly. With me, the rookie, coming in Australia tried to attack me a little bit more and I was lucky enough to get the wickets."

De Klerk was only informed of her starting berth hours before the rain-affected semi-final, with Kapp beset by illness and told she wasn't fit enough to feature in a tear-stained meeting with staff.

De Klerk's plan to bowl wide of off-stump to Lanning didn’t come off, the Australia captain leading her team to a five-run victory with 49, but she emerged with enormous credit for a mature spell.

South Africa's young players stepped up in the absence of Kapp, veteran of 75 T20Is, with another 20-year-old in Laura Woolvardt their outstanding batter with an unbeaten 41.

If the Proteas are to shake off the stain of four semi-final defeats across ICC major events, players such as De Klerk, Woolvardt and teenager Nonkululeko Mlaba will play a key role.

Despite a positive personal performance, De Klerk didn't hide the collective devastation at falling short so close to a maiden appearance in the final.

"We're all heartbroken. We had high hopes and we felt we had a really good chance, but it didn't go our way," said De Klerk.

"We're going to keep our chins high and we can be proud of ourselves. It really hurts, and it's going to hurt for quite a while.

"We would love to have got to the finals, this is another semi-final where we've come second. We want to get over the line, and we always come so close.

"We're getting so close, hopefully the next time we can get over the line. I don't know if it's the pressure, but I think sometimes it doesn't go your way.

"We still take a lot of positives from this World Cup. The girls were brilliant and we can be really proud of ourselves."

- ICC media


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