In a few days from now, the Proteas women will be in India to contest in a limited-over series that’ll cover 5 T20s and 3 ODIs. But the last time that the two teams squared against each other, runs leaked from the bat of Indian batswomen in what turned out to be a one-sided series conducted on the Proteas’ soil. These two are, undoubtedly, two of the most exciting sides in the Women’s game. Yet, in order to counter the daunting challenge, one Proteas batswoman took it upon herself to score useful runs. It’s the very figure that’s gone missing from the South African squad, this time around. Dane van Niekerk will not be a part of the Proteas Women’s tour to India.
Dane van Niekerk will be missed massively by the Proteas Women
And one wonders, just how big a loss is this for a team that’s desperately looking for some inspiration?
Over the course of the last few years, Dane van Niekerk- the all-format captain- of the Proteas has emerged a dangerous exponent of white-ball cricket. Someone who’s not had the luxury of playing too many Tests, having only contested in a solitary five-dayer, it hasn’t taken long for Niekerk to gather 186 international wickets and accumulate 19 fifties and 1 hundred in a decade of playing international cricket.
The fact that Niekerk’s not going to be part of the elaborate tour to India means that the Proteas are going to sorely miss someone with an experience of 175 international appearances.
The importance of the best all-rounder in the side
To a team that often depends on the strength of its all-rounders to see the light of the day, Dane van Niekerk is unmistakably a modern-day colossus. Although, the key role for the right-hander is that of an ace leg-spinner, what’s incredible is that she doubles up as a valuable batswoman.
Someone who can play both attacking strokes right up the order and hold an inning showing great restraint during tough times (down the order), Dane van Niekerk, it appears will be sorely missed in the month-long tour to India. It would’ve been an incredible opportunity to exhibit her all-round talent on that part in the sub-continent where it’s often tough to collect runs and where wickets don’t come at the blink of an eye.
The recognition of her all round brilliance in the recent South African cricket awards where she was anointed as the Proteas Women cricketer of the year pays testimony to her outstanding talent.
What the Proteas will miss the most
You cannot be counted as wrong to suggest that she’s someone who could’ve troubled even the likes of Harmanpreet and Smriti at their own backyard with all the cunning and guile of her probing leg spinners.
In fact, the last that Niekerk appeared in the Proteas jersey for the national side was way back in February. Do the math and you immediately understand the onerous absence.
It’s been over half a year since the 26-year-old Dane van Niekerk starred for South Africa. The fact that Niekerk is yet to recover completely from her foot injury only marks her presence in South Africa’s bright green jersey in further doubt for the contests ahead.
While surely, being young, there’s much time left in the dynamic all-rounder’s career up ahead.
What lies ahead?
But one wonders whether a top-notch elite all-rounder would’ve wanted to sit out of the challenging tour to India. Well, not for a hungry cricketer.
Surely, India isn’t going to come any easy to a South African squad that also sees several other key figures missing out in action.
On the one hand, in Sune Luus, one can be sure that a future all-format leader is holding the reigns of a tall order of talent. But on the other, one can also be sure that, that the likes of Marizanne Kapp- all set to miss the T20 leg of the series- would’ve brought an incredible bite to an order that gains a lot from the experience of Niekerk.
In that aspect, it is but vital for experienced pros like Shabnim Ismail to fire. South Africa will rest heavily on the blistering pace of a consummate competitor of pace bowling.
But only time can tell as to how well the Proteas respond to India’s challenge.