“When I was running in to bowl my first ball in international cricket I was very nervous but at the same time I wanted to showcase my skill,” Tumi Sekhukhune, who came from humble beginnings in the township of Daveyton where she broke through all barriers to wear the green and gold, tells Women’s CricZone.
It is rare to see a black African player let alone a female athlete from a disadvantaged area making it to the international cricket scenes to represent the Proteas without being placed in a position of privilege like getting a cricket scholarship to one of the elite cricket schools of South Africa. Sekhukhune went to a government public school, Unity Secondary School and she is a product of the Daveyton Cricket Club in Ekurhuleni.
The 21-year-old did not have the benefits of playing and enhancing her skills using top class cricket facilities, equipment, training and coaches until she was afforded the opportunity to play Women’s cricket at provincial level, which is the highest level of Women’s cricket in South Africa. Sekhukhune as a member of the Daveyton Cricket Club with no cricket field to call their own used a tennis court as a cricket pitch to practise.
Despite the boundaries, barriers and the disadvantages, Sekhukhune with a champion mentality and the never give up attitude kept on working on her game. Her hard work paid off when she made her debut for Easterns Women as a 14-year-old girl.
Sekhukhune says she got involved in cricket from the age of seven. “My brothers used to play cricket on the stoop and I would look at them, see what they do, how they bowl, how they hold their bat and I took it from there. When I started playing, there were no girls around Daveyton playing cricket and I would play with boys under 11 and 13 at Daveyton cricket club.”
The Daveyton born star received a Proteas Women call-up at the back of impressive performances for the South Africa Emerging Players Women team in 2018. She was part of the Cricket South Africa national academy for a couple of years and played for the South Africa Under-19s Women.
Sekhukhune made her Proteas Women debut against the West Indies Women in a One Day International (ODI) match on September 16, 2018 at Bridgetown.
“When I received the news that I was selected to be part of the Proteas Women squad to tour the West Indies, I was very excited and it was breath-taking to know that my hard work really had paid off,” the right-arm pacer adds. “The first person that I shared the news with was my older brother; we were both emotional and excited for my selection.”
The rising star is from a family of cricketers. Kabelo Sekhukhune is a former South Africa Under-19 player and currently playing semi-professional at Easterns. Neo Sekhukhune represents Easterns under-17.
Reflecting on her Proteas T20 World Cup Squad selection, Sekhukhune says her call-up came as surprise but she was excited and happy to know that her performance with the ball was good enough to impress the selectors.
Playing international cricket has taught Sekhukhune that not only do you need your skill to be consistent but also you need to have a good work ethic, you also need to be fit, willing to learn each, and every day.
It is still early days in her career but ‘Stumza’, as she is affectionately known as, is a promising youngster who should enjoy a long international cricket career considering her work ethic, the will to learn, grow, improve and with a positive attitude and passion she displays off and on the field. She has put up some good performances in her seven T20 Internationals so far taking eight wickets at an 21.33, economy of 6.09 and best bowling figures of 2/27. Sekhukhune has only played three One-Day Internationals.
“When I was running in to bowl my first ball in international cricket I was very nervous but at the same time I wanted to showcase my skill and be able to contribute to the team. My first ODI cricket wicket which happened to be the big one of Stafanie Taylor, Windies Captain, when I was running in I didn’t know it was her and I was not focusing on who was batting, whether they are a big name in cricket, I wanted to showcase that I can also take wickets for my team and be the best .”
Sekhukhune is very much aware that provincial and international cricket are two different levels and to for her to keep playing for the Proteas Women, consistently and taking wickets are the only two things that will save her and ensure she enjoys her cricket.
“I would say at provincial level we don’t get television coverage and the intensity from playing international and provincial cricket is very different, the intensity at international is high and at provincial is low,” says Sekhukhune.
Ever since becoming an international cricketer, Sekhukhune has become a role model to a lot of young girls who have ambitions of playing cricket for South Africa. “I want to become the best in South Africa and I want to be consistent with my bowling and my fielding.”
Sekhukhune is working on improving her death bowling skills and limit the number of wide balls she bowls when under pressure. “I want to master my stop ball and be able to bowl at the death. My weakness is when I bowl under pressure I tend to push my deliverers wide and I do not want that to happen.”
The T20 format, is considered a batters game and with bowlers required to constantly improve their bowling, Sekhukhune doesn’t rely on pace to take wickets or restrict the opposition. She is a skillful limit overs bowler with the ability to bowl according to the match situation. “I know how to restrict runs when there is a need to.”
Proteas Women fast bowler Shabnim Ismail is Sekhukhune’s favourite cricketer as she loves how aggressive her bowling is and the passion she has for cricket is very incredible.
Beside playing cricket, Sekhukhune also played Tennis, Volleyball and Handball. Education is a priority for her as she is planning to study finance at the University Of South Africa (UNISA). The 21-year-old is said she wants to make her mother proud.
“My family because each and every one of them (Family) motivates me to become the best in what I do and also to accomplish everything I want to accomplish in life and Just as much as they teach me to be humble ,to respect and also love each other and everyone that put an impact in my life.”
“I want to finish my degree, masters and honours and in the Proteas Women Team, I want to become in the first 11 and always performance with the ball and the bat but mostly, I want to pursue my career and be the best that I can be.”