Proteas women are on the up

2016-03-10 17:24
Mignon du Preez (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - While the attention on Thursday was very much on the Proteas men leaving for India to take part in the ICC World Twenty20, Mignon du Preez and the Proteas women took to the air in high spirits following their 2-1 series win over the West Indies. 

The Women's ICC World Twenty20, also to be played in India, starts on March 15. 

The Proteas were losing semi-finalists to England in Bangladesh in 2014, but much has happened since then and under Du Preez they are now a vastly improved side and are hoping to go a step further this year.

To put the improvement into perspective, before this month's T20 series against the West Indies the Proteas had lost all nine of their previous meetings against the islanders. 

"Going into the World Cup and beating a team we haven’t before is definitely a confidence-booster," Du Preez told Sport24 on Wednesday night after their four-run win.

"We couldn’t have asked for any better … beating the West Indies on television definitely means a lot and hopefully we had an opportunity to show some of the skills that we’re capable of."

All three of the women's matches against the West Indies were televised as well as two of the matches they played against England last month. 

It has led to a spike in interest in the women's game among the South African cricket-loving public. 

"Hopefully we can get girls at a young age interested in taking it up as a career option and not just up until high school," said Du Preez.

"It’s not really played in schools at a very competitive level. There are only a few schools that have girls cricket … so definitely just growing from the bottom up is the challenge."

And that, says Du Preez, leads to the biggest problem facing the women's side right now.

"In the men’s game on any given day they probably have 100 people to choose from in any position where we don’t have that luxury just yet," she said.

"We’ve got a pretty small pool at the moment so ideally the main aim would be to get more girls that we can choose from to strengthen our group of cricketers."

The Proteas are grouped alongside Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ireland at the tournament and Du Preez is expecting nothing less than a semi-final appearance.

"Two years ago we got to the semi-finals and I think we have the strongest team we’ve ever had before, so nothing less than a semi-final," she said.

"But ideally ... making it all the way to the final and hopefully bringing a trophy home and making history in South Africa."

South Africa's first match will be against Australia on March 18 in Nagpur.


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