Cape Town - A disappointing batting performance by the Proteas women saw them suffer a 31-run defeat at the hands of West Indies in their second Group A fixture of the ICC Women’s World T20 in St Lucia on Wednesday.
The batting unit, who have visibly struggled for some months now are bent on righting their wrongs and clinching their next two matches against England and Bangladesh respectively.
Wicket-keeper/batter Lizelle Lee was bitterly disappointed by the batting unit’s efforts and expressed their desperation to make it right to the bowlers who have been the highlight of South Africa’s performances of late.
“Last night was disappointing to say the least,” she commented. “I don’t really have any words to express how we feel. We’re gonna have to forget about that now, we are in a big tournament, we have the likes of England coming up and Bangladesh and we know that in a game like this you can’t underestimate any team so we’re gonna have to make sure we pull our socks up (as a batting unit). The bowling unit has been doing very well and we can’t fault them in any manner. The batting unit has to make sure they do something now and approach the next two games as a final.
South Africa were bowled out for 76 runs in 18.4 overs and while Lee acknowledged the slowness of the pitches in St Lucia, she remained baffled as to why their side struggled so noticeably after all the work they have put in which included success in their opening match against Sri Lanka. She admitted that they felt confident that they would be able to chase down the defending champions’ 107/7 and is adamant that their issues are not skills-based.
“If you have a look at all of the games that have been played in St. Lucia thus far there hasn’t been big scores, it’s a had wicket to come into and just throw your hands or something. You have to make sure that you get and grind yourself into a good score and you have to adapt quickly,” she continued. “Last night the wind was very, very tough, it almost felt like you were blown away just standing on the field so that made it a bit hard but we’re gonna have to make sure that we do better, that we stick through it. If you had a look at the game last night you’ll see that we were never out of it, we were always in there but losing all those wickets in clusters really made it hard for us.
“I don’t think this is a skills problem. We have a lot of skills to be honest but I do think it’s starting to become a mental thing. If you have a look at our dismissals, it’s becoming more of a pattern so we’re gonna have to go and look at ourselves and start changing it. We can’t get out every single time in the same way – and I’m speaking for myself here now – we’ve got to make sure that we grind through an innings and get those partnerships.”
Captain Dané van Niekerk was caught on camera giving the team what looked like a stern talking to at the end of the match but Lee says she was justified in her distress.
“She does show a lot of emotions but that’s because she genuinely cares for every member of this team and where we’re headed. She’s a great captain,” Lee explained. “She leads from the front. It’s a pity that she got run out last night because I’m pretty sure she would have won us that game, she’s just that sort of player. She’s a great person, I couldn’t have asked for a better person to be our captain at this point. After the loss last night, she came down really hard at us, which she has all the right to do so.”
Van Niekerk expressed her disappointment during her post match press conference. She said;
“We’ve got a very good batting line-up, from one to eight, they can take the game away from you at any moment. Chasing 107 you need 5.5 (runs) an over for 20 overs. We got ourselves into trouble there quite early, bogging ourselves down and we played a lot of catch up. We also had a lot of soft dismissals, there wasn’t a batter who came and could say they were beaten by a brilliant ball. You can’t rebuild an innings if you keep on losing wickets.
“We’re obviously disappointed, we played really well against Sri Lanka, there was a lot of positives that we took out from that game. We are a very positive side, we need to move forward. I think we did well to restrict them to 107, we just panicked and did stuff that we don’t generally do when we batted.
“We need to beat England and Bangladesh to give us the best chance to go through (to the semi-finals), it’s plain and simple for us. We have to step up to beat a quality side like England and you can’t underestimate a side like Bangladesh.”
Looking ahead to South Africa’s must-win match against England tomorrow, Lee expects a tough contest against the ODI world champions but a better batting performance from herself and the rest of the batting unit.
“It’s never an easy game between us two teams, we have been giving them a really hard time these last few months. For us to get through this game we’re gonna have to stick to our basics, again we can’t fault the bowlers, they’ve been doing exceptionally well, they’ve been bowling their hearts out. The fielding has improved so much as well, it’s just for us as a batting unit to make sure that we get it together and to make sure that drag the team over the line,” she concluded.
The match against England will be played this Friday at 16:00 local time (22:00 CAT), followed by Bangladesh on Sunday at 20:00 (02:00 CAT on Monday, 19 November) at the same venue.