South Africa women’s fast bowler Shabnim Ismail says the team has put the heartbreaking defeat against England in the World Cup semi-final behind them as they prepare for another big year ahead for women’s cricket.
It was in July earlier this year that Ismail bowled the ball that allowed England’s Jenny Gunn to hit the winning runs with two balls to spare as the Proteas women sunk to their knees in despair as the hosts reached the World Cup final, which they went on to win.
It’s been four months since that defeat but the Proteas women now has to build towards next year’s World T20, which will be played in the West Indies in November 2018.
Losing World Cup finalists India visit South Africa for three ODIs and five T20Is in February and Ismail feels she and her team are still gelling as they gear up for next year’s global event.
Ismail said: “Obviously our goal was to win the 2017 World Cup, we came a bit short. For us we still working hard, we are still gelling as a team.
“India comes down in February for a series and so we obviously want to do well in that and then take it through to the World T20 which will be played in West Indies.”
Ismail gave some insight into what the national players have been up to over the last four months after the World Cup.
With women’s players now nationally contracted, Ismail says they have to put in the work at Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) high performance center to up their skills and fitness levels.
She said: “CSA has put in a good process now where we train everyday and every month we meet up with the team. We gather at the high performance centre where we work on our skills and have to reach certain targets.
“If you don’t reach those targets there is consequences”, Ismail said with a smile. “So it is for us to put our fitness and skills in place over the next few months.”
At 29 years of age, Ismail is one of the senior members of the Proteas side having already played 77 ODIs and 58 T20Is and she acknowledges her role in the team is to help bring along the younger players.
As for her own personal goals, Ismail just wants to be the fastest bowler that she can be while obviously still looking to knock over opposing batters.
Ismail said: “I always say my personal goal is to be the fastest bowler in the world, which I am currently – I hope I still am up there – and then obviously to be in the top three in the wicket-taking rankings.
“(Former Proteas seamer) Henry Williams and Cobus Roodt were the two coaches that helped me get into the SA team, they actually made me become my own bowling coach.
“So in the national side we don’t have a bowling coach as yet – hopefully we get that soon – so it is also up to me as a senior player to help the other bowlers in the Proteas team.”
By Nasri Alexander