“The sun is shining, the weather is sweet, who’ll reign in the T20s; will it be the Proteas fire or will they dance to the Caribbean beats?”
If you were to rewind the clocks back to the events that transpired in 2016 between the West Indies and South Africa, you’d find that the outcomes of the ODIs stood in a stark contrast to what was witnessed at the Caribbean.
Hours back, a 3-match ODI series was concluded in the West Indies. Then, two years back, a 3-match ODI series was completed at the Proteas’ home. But in polarization to West Indies drawing level to South Africa- as seen this time around- back then, East London was all about the West Indies.
Had South Africa managed to beat the Windies at Barbados, they would’ve pocked the series 2-0 whereas the eventual outcome stands at 1-1.
Back then, at South Africa, had the Windies not won a crucial series-sealing second ODI, it would have been South Africa’s series. Then it was 2-1 in favour of Stafanie’s women. Now, it’s been a series matched with the grit of the bat and the accuracy of the ball drawing Stafanie and Niekerk’s women on par.
Interestingly, if one doesn’t take into account the only washed out duel given the two bi-lateral series- in 2016 and 2018- then the West Indies have overpowered South Africa by a margin of 1 game.
That’s about the ODIs, but what about the T20 form of either side when pitted against each other?
South Africa Women’s made a strong comeback against the touring Windies in 2016, winning the decider at Cape Town after Taylor’s brigade drew level at Jo’burg, with the Proteas firing the opening salvo in the first T20 held at Kingsmead.
So does that mean this time around, the West Indies are going to return the favour? Does this also mean that the home-advantage will benefit the defending T20 champions the way it aided the Proteas?
Plenty of questions run amok akin to the cool Calypso breeze presiding over a contest.
But while what’s slated to happen rests in the lap of the future, here are a few perspectives on what might assist either side:
- Marizanne Kapp has been in solid form, having collected a vital 4-for that stood up as the only positive that Niekerk’s women could take back from the Kensington Oval.
- The West Indies would perhaps breathe a sigh of relief given that the hero of the last T20 series-Shabnim Ismail- who struck 7 wickets from 3 T20s- isn’t around for the current encounters. But does that mean the looming threat of an in-form Marizanne Kapp should be ruled out by Taylor’s team?
- The onus for proving mid-inning stability to the Proteas rests heavily on Mignon Du Preez, who, the last time around contributed a personal best of 32, the top score for the series-sealing T20 at Cape Town. That she’s not been in the best of forms in the ODIs should augur well for forging a healthy comeback and return to runs in the briefest format.
- The South Africans would be mighty well-advised not to take Stafanie Taylor any lightly, who, from 3 T20s back in 2016, collected 88 runs, including that imperious 63 off 53 at Jo’burg, also the highest score in that tournament.
- The challenge awaited South Africa would be to curb a dashing batswoman from the opposite camp. To take Hayley Matthews lightly would be akin to expecting a lioness to stay astray from a sitting duck. We saw at Barbados what Matthews did to the likes of Kapp, Niekerk, Tumi and others. Should her form continue into the T20s, it could make for an exciting contest.
- Interesting battles are expected to take centre stage in the form of Dottin vs Du Preez, Niekerk vs Taylor, Kapp vs Connell. All of these provide the anticipation to witness what’ll truly be expected to be a fantastic series.
That said, in a template so suited to unpredictability, resting merely on past laurels may not be such a wise thing. At the same time taking each contest as a decider- in itself- may prove to be the way forward for both sides, considering that in a matter of just a couple of months, they return to the same setting and backdrop for what’ll clearly be the mother of all sporting battles: the ICC Women’s World T20.