In an ideal world, Lizelle Lee, the South African batter, should have been finalizing wedding plans with her fiance Tanja Cronje. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has meant she has had to put those plans on hold. Instead, Lee is utilizing the forced break to finish a 2000-piece puzzle to keep herself occupied.
Lee was excepted to tie the knot with Cronje on April 10, but due to 21-day lockdown in South Africa, the wedding has been pushed back, leaving the 28-year-old with the opportunity to spend quality time with her parents and loved ones.
South Africa were scheduled to play Australia in a three-match ODI and T20I series, and Lee, who had registered her maiden T20I hundred in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia, was looking to continue her good form against the world champions. However, the tour had to be suspended because of the pandemic, but Lee believes it will not hamper the progress the team has made over the past couple of years.
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“The team is in a great space at the moment,” Lee said. “We don’t fear any opposition. We want to play the best in the world, and we want to beat them and ultimately show that we are a team to be reckoned with.”
During the World Cup, South Africa recorded their first-ever victory against England in a global tournament, and carried that momentum to top the group as well. They qualified for the semi-finals for the first time since 2014, where they went down to Australia in a thrilling encounter.
‘’It’s a game like that, that makes you a good team,” insists Lee when recalling the nail-biting win against England. The game went down to the final over with Mignon du Preez striking a six and four to guide the Proteas to the 124-run target with two balls to spare.
“That match set up our World Cup. England are one of the best teams in the world and despite not having scored in that game, I gained a lot of confidence from it.”
In their second game against debutants Thailand, Lee smashed a ton off just 60 balls. Despite not being able to carry that momentum through the rest of the tournament Lee believes her game is in a good place and is well set for the coming season.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and down, that’s how cricket goes. I’m enjoying the 50-over format. I feel I have more time to get myself in and score more freely.”
In the ODI series against New Zealand Lee was named player of the series. She scored 157 runs at an average of 52.3 and often provided brisk starts up front which helped the middle-order batters play more freely.
“If I’m being honest, I don’t think we expected to beat them 3-0,” she said. “At the moment, we are a very good 50-over side. In the past, we’ve had games where we scored a lot of runs and games where we were very poor – we lacked consistency.”
With less than 12 months to go for the ODI World Cup scheduled to take place in New Zealand, Lee said that the team is focussed on performing well in the showpiece event.
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“Next year’s World Cup is going to be very interesting. We’re playing better cricket than in 2017, where we reached the semi-finals.”
“We didn’t go there to win the World Cup, we just wanted to do the best we could. That focus has shifted from just wanting to play to actually knowing we can go on to win a World Cup.”
Recently Lee was named Melbourne Stars player of the season. She scored 475 runs at a strike rate of 131.94 and was one of the positives for Stars in their otherwise dismal campaign where they finished last.