In the much-celebrated Hollywood biggie Wonder Woman, Diana, stunned by all that is wrong with the world, given bloodshed and war, her platoon heavily outnumbered by charging Nazi forces, wishes to step into the battlefield.
She’s an impassioned figure who’ll ensure no easy day for the tormentors. Soon using sagacity and heroism, Diana will turn into the Wonder Woman and tame the world.
Her weapon of choice would lead to a magical mayhem. But where would’ve Gal Gadot been had it not been for the sword of the Wonder Woman?
The charisma of Mignon Du Preez
Take the picture, replace the characters; question and travel to the past.
We are in midst of embittered scenes at the Bristol, England.
It’s July 18, 2017. South Africa take the game to the final over. In fact, three balls are remaining. England still need to go past 218 set by South Africa.
Then, a few minutes later Dane Van Niekerk is on her feet, scattered on the ground. Meanwhile, victors, Gunn and Shrubsole run to console the Protea’s Women’s captain.
Fans feel as if they’ve seen a ghost or witnessed a horror for real.
The scoreboard unveils the name of the winner. South Africa Women’s have crashed out of the big-stage semis.
Then, as fans and the Protean contingent leave the ground, a thought goes on to the scorecard.
Just what transpired there?
“How did we even reach 218”?
If this was a query that perturbed you, and it might have, as it gave South Africa a fodder to nearly chew off their opponents as they took the game into the very final over, you’d remember someone special.
Against a certain Mignon Du Preez’ name, there were 76 solid runs written.
In them, 5 boundaries, each emanating a charisma for the sheer pressure in which they were struck. Akin to unearthing gold where there’d been none.
South African fans and perhaps the tired contingent, that could’ve, on that day cried buckets of tears, would’ve silently thanked Mignon Du Preez in their minds.
She charted a path of a beleaguered looking scorecard, providing it with light, saved it from impoverishment, took it far into safer seas, nearly toward the corner before the ship sank.
One of the greatest questions in the ebb of contemporary Women’s cricket, albeit seldom asked is- what would’ve become of South Africa Women’s in the World Cup had Mignon Du Preez not been there?
Alas, never the one to bask in personal glories, it didn’t matter to Mignon Du Preez that she’d scored her personal best in the world cup then on that day.
Some glitter amidst the gloom they’re around. Some still manage to keep their head above their shoulders as others frown.
It wasn’t that Mignon Du Preez wasn’t part of the grieving lot.
It’s just that she had bravely marched on.
As she’d previously done during arguably South Africa’s worst ICC World T20 campaign in 2016, India, wherein, Mignon Du Preez couldn’t even strike a meaningful 30.
And perhaps, in this monk-like ability to emote fortitude remains the key to Mignon Du Preez’ success.
Defeats haven’t troubled her.
Series losses haven’t drowned her in despair.
This is an amphibian that likes swimming through it all- despair or jubilation, victory or redemption.
In the immediate aftermath of South Africa’s sorry 2017 World Cup Campaign, Protea’s Women’s valiant hero focused on the positives and began hitting the nets.
It would show in the results in the 2018 season.
As India toured South Africa, in what transpired to be a successful series, the third ODI was a desperate moment for South Africa Women’s.
Not a single win had come from the two ODIs.
This was make or break.
One batswoman stood again to the thundering storm ignited by India. Mignon Du Preez fired a 90. She remained not out. The god’s, seemingly smiled.
South Africa Women’s escaped with a 7-wicket win. But staying true to her standard operation in a contest, there was no arrogance on Mignon Du Preez’ face. She didn’t even seem relieved. She knew there were two more games.
Next came Bangladesh; to South Africa.
They were whitewashed and the mellow warrior continued assaults through quickfire cameos. Steady 20s and 30s but nothing outrightly stunning.
Scoring runs mean just a normal day at the office for Mignon Du Preez.
She’s been there before the likes of Mandhana, Rodriguez, Hayley Mathews, Atapattu came along.
She’s rubbed shoulders with former greats of the game- Charlotte Edwards, Esha Gupta, Alex Blackwell, Lisa Sthalekar.
She’ll continue to work wonders for her national side, saving it and defying it from growing threats of the sub-continent and elsewhere, as cricket will continue to be blossomed by new opponents and tireless forces.
Like the great mountains in her native Pretoria that remain unmoved, undaunted by changing vagaries of weather, Mignon Du Preez remains a primer of grace and forbearance as Women’s cricket continues to run faster, the current times being a steeplechase, the race is to win the attention and adulation of a growing cricketing fraternity.
That leaves us to question just what constitutes a great today?
If it were runs alone, then firing nearly 3000 would automatically lift Mignon Du Preez in a pantheon of modern achievers. If it were exceptional fielding skills, then she’s defied laws of physics to snatch a dismissal out of thin air too.
If it were most ODI appearances in the game, then nearing 120 makes Du Preez one among the few.
But perhaps not even sterling shiny jewels collected from the blade can vouch for her greatness as well as her humane, compassionate nature can.
For someone who’s 29 but plays with the excitement of a student in a freshman year, throwing no weight around being the most-celebrated Protea’s Women’s cricketer, Mignon’s real grace stems from the fact that her feet are firmly planted on the ground, despite having collected skying feats in the game.
Not only is she the only South African women’s cricketer to have struck a double century in a 40-over game, but also has to her credit- a Test hundred on debut.
Displaying steely resolve from behind the grilled facial mask and an omnipresent smile in front of it- Mignon Du Preez- for her innate simplicity and dignity is the spark of South Africa’s fire.
Not every day does a wielder of bat at four transforms into a leader and above anything- a humane spirit. One minute akin to the mortal Diana. The other, into an irrepressible Dame.