Among the many disappointments of the sport is that often outcomes witnessed on the crease are experienced and shared by the fans.
The disappointments get doubled when a series doesn’t yield a result or when either side, such as the one witnessed at the Caribbean where the ODI series ended with 1-1 shares the odds. South Africa, upon drawing first blood by winning the first game may have thought it was their series to win.
But a sport so suited to the unpredictability, it was anything but a Protean triumph in the land of Caribbean rum, beach parties, Reggae and Calypso hits. Barbados proved it’s the land of batting and some exciting marksmanship with the bat, after all, thanks to Hayley Matthews’ effort.
Even then, despite the second ODI getting rained out, it may not be wrong to say that the West Indies Women’s team emerged with their chin up. You’d rather end a series on a winning note than being at the other side of defeat.
And in experiencing exactly that outcome, the West Indies Women’s were upped by the ante of their batswomen, a magnanimous exhibition of which was shared by the young Hayley Matthews and the experienced Deandra Dottin.
The duo would be hoping to carry forward their form into the T20s. And yet, at the same time, the Proteas would be fired up to invoke a dent into the Windies’ confidence of securing the T20 series.
Having said that, what are the possibilities and scenarios that could be expected between a clash of the Caribbean storm and the Proteas fire?
Past form suggests a thing or two for South Africa
The last that the two sides met in a bi-lateral contest was in 2016, held at South Africa. The West Indies Women, having lost the ODIs came back sharply, like an Anisa Mohammed-turner and clinched the T20s in a closely-fought series by the margin of 2-1.
The South Africans would want to settle their score with the West Indies Women’s unit.
Of the past 6 T20s played, Stafanie Taylor’s ladies have won 3 while Dane Van Niekerk’s ladies have won only 2 T20s, with one, as seen recently being washed out. Having lost the ODI series, the Proteas will be keen to work up a revival and stoke their T20 form ahead of the ICC Women’s World T20, 2018.
A comprehensive series means huge match practice for the World T20
The West Indies Women’s have been playing South Africans since 2008-on. Not since the commencement of their bi-lateral engagement with one another has a single T20 series featured 5 T20s, as seen on this occasion.
It’s more than a watershed moment that stakes an importance in the rise of the T20 culture among the women’s sport. It also presents both the South African outfit and the West Indian team a great opportunity of diving into some exciting 20-over cricket over the course of the next fortnight in a bid to prepare for the mother of all sporting battles in the Women’s game: the ICC Women’s World T20, 2018.
Hayley Matthews’ timely form
Back in 2016, Hayley Matthews, then 18, starred in a world-cup winning effort in the final played at the Eden Gardens. As Australia was thumped by the Windies at a neutral venue, a star was born- a big-hitting batswoman who could play some fiery grounded strokes apart from taking her batting airborne.
The only thing missing from Hayley Matthews’ game was the prospect of hitting a mighty hundred, which came a few hours back against the same team that took the Mickey out of her unit in the 2017 World Cup.
In striking a fantastic 117 off 145 balls, the Bajan struck 17 fours and sprung back into some solid form, a continuation of which could yield great results for her West Indies in the T20s.
Marizanne Kapp will be an albatross around the Windies Women’s neck
The last time that the West Indies suffered against the South Africans in the ODI series, played in 2016 at South Africa, Shabnim Ismail hurled up some blasters as if firing bullets from a stane-gun. In taking 7 wickets then from 3 games, she buried the Windies batswomen several feet under the ground of pressure.
While there’s no Shabnim Ismail this time around, can the West Indies breathe easy? Of course, not. There’s Marizanne Kapp, the ever-reliant new-ball bowler who also has taken a 7-wicket-haul from the 3-match series.
In the Barbados decider, Kapp, who only recently went beyond the 100-wicket tally, scalped a 4-for; and in so doing, mustered up a valiant fight when others around her were tired. In the T20s, where Marizanne has 48 wickets at an excellent economy of 5 will be ready to ask questions of Taylor’s women.
Deandra Dottin’s power will impact the Proteas Women’s
There’s Chris Gayle, the Universe Boss in the men’s game for the West Indies and there’s Deandra Dottin in the women’s game who can reduce the cricket ball to the size of a ping-pong ball, given her Bajan might.
That she’s scored 2 T20 hundreds in the briefest format speaks volumes of her abilities. Having said that, what’d worry the South African’s the most would be that only a few hours back did the right-hander strike the fastest T20 fifty in the Women’s game for the West Indies, that enabled her side to score its highest total at the Kensington Oval. Those muscular whips over mid-on and the powerful backfoot punches will come in handy for the West Indies Women’s in the T20 series.
Dane Van Niekerk’s concern
If there’s been a batswoman who’s been in a sensational form then it’s the Proteas’ captain, Dane Van Niekerk, amongst the top all-rounders in the game today. Of late, her ODI scores read 77, 56 and 43 not out.
There’s not a shot she cannot play, not a gap she cannot pierce and not a spot on the field she cannot clear.
Having said that, Niekerk’s concerns would be the rather sedate form of Lizelle Lee and Mignon Du Preez, both being the integral figures for the South African lineup.
While Lee has smashed a few mighty blows in the Kia Super League in England, her ODI performances seemed a patch of her imperious English run. The West Indies Women’s would be keen to exploit that while they’d also hope that Proteas’ highest-T20 scorer- Mignon Du Preez- with over 2000 runs doesn’t come handy with the bat.
If these two glitches can get sorted and the powerful Chloe Tryon resumes her quintessential stroke-making, the Windies Women would be severely underwhelmed.