Proteas World Cup hopes rest on playing with greater intent

Being able to use Nonkululeko Mlaba in different roles is an important part of SA's planning for the T20 World Cup later this year.
Being able to use Nonkululeko Mlaba in different roles is an important part of SA's planning for the T20 World Cup later this year.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

While still soaking in the plaudits after scoring just the second T20 International century by a South African player, Laura Wolvaardt was already staring at the bigger picture of the World Cup and how the players’ performances against Sri Lanka might impact that event. 

The second match of the series in Potchefstroom on Saturday offers Wolvaardt’s Proteas further opportunities to test their aggressive mindset with the bat, along with a variety of bowling options at different times in the innings, while the fielding must always be front of mind for it is an area that constantly needs improvement. 

Too often over the last decade South Africa have talked about batting with greater intent, but the occasions on which they have been able to implement their team talk on the field have been rare.

Their final total of 198/5 in Benoni on Wednesday night was the second highest by a Proteas team and only the third time they’d topped 190 in the shortest format, with Wolvaardt hoping her side had broken through a psychological barrier.

“We’ve been scoring 150s consistently and we chatted about wanting to find an extra 20 to 30 runs, we are looking at 170-180,” said the Proteas captain. 

It is one of the areas in which South Africa has fallen behind the likes of Australia and England in the last decade in the T20 format.

Where those two sides have been far more aggressive and showed greater intent for longer, the Proteas have relied on an ‘old school’ conservative way to build totals. 

The women’s game has changed drastically, and South Africa have been too slow to follow that change, despite last year’s stunning run to the final of the T20 World Cup.

To be serious challengers at the 2024 tournament in Bangladesh later this year, the Proteas have to work diligently to follow that attacking trend. 

There are building blocks in doing so as Wolvaardt explained.

“It's nice to have that big partnership at the beginning because then you can make that push towards the end,” she said, referencing her 116-run second wicket partnership with Marizanne Kapp.

That big total gave South Africa the freedom to experiment with the ball.

“After getting that score it was nice to give the youngsters a longer bowl (Nonkululeko) Mlaba tried a ‘death over’ at the end, with the World Cup in mind,” said Wolvaardt.

As good as it was to win first up, a crucial part of any tournament campaign is stringing results together, something South Africa have not done on a consistent basis.

It’s why they cannot afford to slip up on Saturday, and so the same intensity and greater attention to detail needs to be seen.

Saturday’s match starts at 6pm.


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