Nackerdien thrilled with Proteas Women’s improvement

On the back of two consecutive defeats in their opening matches of the T20 Tri-Series, the Proteas bounced back with aplomb when they recorded a convincing, six-wicket victory against England on Saturday.

Thanks to crucial half-centuries from opener Lizelle Lee who scored an explosive 68 off 32 deliveries, and all-rounder Suné Luus (63) who notched up her second T20I fifty, South Africa completed their second-ever triumph over England in T20 internationals.

Following candid discussions between the players and the coaching staff, assistant coach Salieg Nackerdien is pleased with the side’s overall performance during their third match after a disappointing start.

“We spoke about our plans as a bowling unit, in terms of our adaptability to the wicket,” he stated. “We knew we were playing on the same wicket and wanted to apply ourselves properly and take accountability for our skill sets.

“The same goes for our batting, we spoke about showing more intent at practice and making sure they (the players) back themselves when they go to hit over the top or play the rotation game.

“We are very pleased with the way they went about it.” Nackerdien beamed.

When asked about the telling factors that led to the Proteas’ successful outing, Nackerdien linked it to the side’s tactics going into the game, with the bowlers setting up the ideal foundation.

“We talked about not being predictable and mixing it up and Dané (Van Niekerk) did so nicely,” he explained. “Raisibe (Ntozakhe) started really well and went on and bowled four overs, which set the tone for the rest of the innings.

“We can also talk about the young (Zintle) Mali, that bowled excellently as well. We are very chuffed with that and all the other bowlers that chipped in.

“If you look at what happened on the day, there was a big difference in terms of what happened in the previous games with our skill sets and how we applied ourselves from a bowling point of view,” he added.

On the batting, the former head coach of the Western Province senior provincial side attributed the batters’ efforts to the long hours spent in the nets, focusing on power hitting. As they chased down the hosts’ target of 160 with three deliveries to spare, dispatching 23 boundaries in the process, including eight maximums. It was also the highest total that South Africa has successfully chased down in the format.

“At practices, we worked on a lot of long-ball hitting, just to work on a stable base and make sure we select properly and hit the ball properly,” he continued.  “It was pleasing to see that the average of a boundary being scored was good and on a regular basis, in the power play and in the middle period as well as at the back-end. So hopefully we can be consistent in that regard.”

“It was also good to see that the running between the wickets – which we talked about before the game – was better” Nackerdien added.

It was not only the ladies’ exploits with bat and ball that were scrutinised by the assistant coach, as he pointed out South Africa’s performance in the field. Despite a few missed opportunities, Nackerdien believes his side is on the right track while emphasising the importance of enjoying the aspect of fielding.

“There were a couple of boundary balls that we let through,” he said.  “But we said to the players, we need to start enjoying the fielding aspect and learn from the past. That’s how you are going to enjoy it. You can’t just do the batting and the bowling.

“The fielding also creates opportunities and can change games quickly and get us on the front foot. That aspect also improved in this game.” Nackerdien commented.

After the two respective, record-breaking defeats to England and New Zealand in last week’s double-header, the management and coaching staff had their work cut out for them to get the players in the best frame of mind ahead of the remaining games in the triangular series.

“We went straight to the point in terms of what we can achieve as a team and what we want to work towards, which is the (T20) World Cup in November,” Nackerdien continued. “We spoke about taking responsibility. At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing your own space in terms of what you need to do with your skill sets.

“It’s also about that belief, that self-belief that we needed to create in the team and as individuals in the squad. That helped a lot,” he added.

South Africa will need another big victory when they take on New Zealand next, if they are to make the Tri-Series final and Nackerdien believes the five-day break ahead of that encounter will provide the players enough time to think about their game, as they look to end the tour to England on a positive note ahead of the ICC Women’s World T20.

“When we start (preparations) on Tuesday, it’s going to be crucial to get into that positive space where we were in and do our business” he said. “It’s more important we end the series with confidence and build towards what we want to achieve at the end of the year.So hopefully, if everything falls into place and players do their job properly, we’ll get the positive results and rewards,” he concluded.

The Proteas will be looking for another impressive performance, when they face the White Ferns on Thursday, as they work to feature in Sunday’s T20 Tri-Series final.