Frustrated Van Niekerk looks to outsmart England

It was runs galore in the second ICC Women’s Championship One-Day International (ODI) between England and the Proteas, as the visitors succumbed to a 69-run defeat in Hove.

South African’s captain, Dané van Niekerk expressed her disappointment in her side’s performance, both with bat and ball after the all-rounder had won the toss and elected to field first in Tuesday’s clash.

“It wasn’t hard luck. I think it just was bad execution as a bowling and a batting unit,” Van Niekerk commented. “It is hard to say with the toss, because we spoke as a team and we were all happy to bowl first. You never quite know what to expect in England. We tried to check the stats and it was 50-50, so we just went with what we’re comfortable.

“At the end of the day, if we bowled second in the way we did today, we would have fetched leather as well.”

Although unhappy with the team’s display, the skipper credits the hosts for their proactive approach throughout the game, with Tammy Beaumont (101) and Sarah Taylor (118) – after their record-breaking 275-run stand at last year’s World Cup – continuing their impressive record against South Africa. They shared a 156-run partnership for the second wicket to help England to a commanding total of 331/6 at the end of their allotted overs.

“You always have to look at both aspects,” Van Niekerk continued. “They played really well and brought the game to us. We expected it (falling wickets) to happen and that is the frustrating thing for me on the field, we didn’t fight for our wickets on a pitch that had no seam movement or anything. We didn’t sum up the conditions well and I guess the scorecard speaks for itself.”

There were some positives to pick out from the match for the Proteas though, with Chloe Tryon once again showing her power in the middle order, as she scored a rapid 44 from 26 deliveries. The most praise in the camp had to go to Lizelle Lee, who added to her unbeaten 92 from the first ODI, another master class with the bat as she hit her second ODI century (117 off 106 balls, including 13 x 4s, 5 x 6s).

Thanks to Lee’s ton, it meant there were three centurions in the same women’s ODI fixture for the first time ever.

“It was great the way she went about her game, it was awesome to watch.,” Van Niekerk stated. “The striking was insane. The way she set up her innings was brilliant, I couldn’t fault her on anything.

“A total of 330 was a tough ask but we still believed, especially with the way Lizelle hit the ball. Halfway through, we thought we were well in the game, but unfortunately the middle order didn’t come to the party, myself included.

“We know Chloe Tryon can finish it off, but asking her to strike at 12 an over for the next 14 overs was probably unrealistic as a team to expect that from her, even though we know she can do it. We were definitely one batter short.” she added.

Looking ahead to the final on Friday, Captain Van Niekerk is in no doubt what she and the charges must do for victory, as they hope to channel their clinical performance from last week Saturday’s successful series opener.

“Box smart,” she continued. “I think we showed that well in the first game. Our plans were on point, we summed the conditions really well and our execution was near-perfect.

“I think that’s how we are going to beat England. We need to do stuff better than them on the day. This match didn’t go according to plan, but there’s a lot to play for and if cricket was an easy game, then everyone would play it.

“So, it is back to the drawing board, I am excited to go to Canterbury and see the wicket first, sum it up the right way and take the match to them in the last game.” Van Niekerk concluded.

The third and final ODI will be another day/night match in Canterbury on Friday, 15 June 2018. The action will be live on SuperSport and with the series levelled at 1-1, it is set to be a tightly contested affair.

Proteas squad: Dané van Niekerk (captain, Eastern Province), Lizelle Lee (North West), Chloe Tryon (KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins), Mignon du Preez (Northerns), Marizanne Kapp (Eastern Province), Shabnim Ismail (Gauteng), Ayabonga Khaka (Gauteng), Raisibe Ntozakhe (Gauteng), Suné Luus (Northerns), Laura Wolvaardt (Western Province), Stacey Lackay (Western Province).