Sometimes numbers do tell a story in cricket and you feel it’s just a matter of time before getting one past your opponent. South Africa are one such team who are yet to beat England in the six editions of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. The Proteas have played England three times but have failed to outclass them. Fittingly they will play their first game against England on Sunday (February 23) at WACA in Perth and look to get the record corrected.
South African wicket-keeper Trisha Chetty is aware of the fact but feels her team is ready to change the record. “England have always had the upper hand against us,” Chetty said. “They’ve beaten us in two World Cup semi-finals across the two formats now so we’re determined to start the tournament on an improved note against them.”
South Africa finally have a full-strength squad on paper in this edition of T20 World Cup. Skipper Dane van Niekerk is once again back at the helm along with Chloe Tryon, Ayabonga Khaka and Chetty among the mix after missing most of the 2019 due to injuries. Ranked sixth in the world, South Africa are coming from loss and win against their warm-up matches against Australia and Sri Lanka respectively. Prior to that, they lost the T20 series against New Zealand 1-3. Come Sunday (February 23), in the match against England, it will all be about skills, execution and the planning that went ahead.
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The series against New Zealand exposed South Africa’s batting frailties as Lizelle Lee, Mignon du Preez and Laura Wolvaardt failed to get going. Having scored a fifty in the warm-up while opening the batting against Australia, it will be interesting to see whether van Niekerk does the same against the English bowlers with Du Preez and firepower of Tryon to follow. The big-hitting Tryon is not in great form, but she is known to strike big in the ICC tournaments and England must be wary of her.
The bowling looks in good shape for South Africa with ever-reliable Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail, Khaka, Sune Luus and van Niekerk herself in line. The pitch in Perth generally offers good pace and bounce and it is expected to be a good battle between the two teams.
On the other side of the spectrum is England, who have slightly fallen off the radar, after a 10-wicket thrashing from Sri Lanka in thew warm-ups. They also failed to qualify for the finals of the T20 Tri-series involving India and Australia earlier this month.
The batting has been a concern for England with openers Danielle Wyatt and Amy Jones not getting the starts they would have wanted up the order. Although, the middle-order — Natalie Sciver, Heather Knight and Fran Wilson — have bailed them out in crucial games, England need Wyatt and Jones to fire and get them of to a good start. The diminutive Wyatt had a good season for Melbourne Renegades scoring over 400 runs in the Women’s Big Bash League. She will bank on that experience to come good in the tournament.
Bowling-wise, England look good with Sophie Ecclestone and Sarah Glenn faring well in the tri-series. The spin duo picked up five wickets each in the tournament and often kept the run-rate on check. Besides the spinners, the experience of Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole will also come into count. Brunt had missed the last edition of the tournament in 2018 and will surely look to make amends this time.
The battle between the the two teams looks interesting with both sides looking well-stocked in the bowling department. It will be interesting to see which team comes good in batting and have a chance to put crucial two points on the table.
England: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Amy Jones, Danielle Wyatt, Natalie Sciver, Katherine Brunt, Georgia Elwiss, Sophie Ecclestone, Freya Davies, Anya Shrubsole, Lauren Winfield, Sarah Glenn, Kate Cross, Mady Villiers, Fran Wilson.
South Africa: Dane van Niekerk (c), Laura Wolvaardt, Lizelle Lee, Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Sune Luus, Chloe Tryon (vc), Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Tumi Sekhukhune, Trisha Chetty, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Nadine de Klerk, Nondumiso Shangase.