The game of wickets and boundaries asks for unconditional love, true commitment, valuable fitness and sheer hard work. One puts their heart and soul into it, and this game shall never leave their hearts. Marizanne Kapp, born on 4th January, 1990 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Born in a fitness fanatic family, played numerous sports only to be brought to the love of her life - cricket.
One of the most influential all-rounders of the Protea women, a fitness enthusiast and an absolutely inspiring personality. The South African with the highest score of 102* in women’s world cup and highest partnership of 128 runs for south Africa with Dane Van Niekerk, with whom she tied the knot in July 2018. Also only the third woman to take a hat-trick in T20s. Kapp was also one of the only four South Africans to play in the inaugural Big Bash League. She recently completed her 100 ODI wickets in the series against the West Indies women. A complete family person one of the favorites of the Proteas.
Female cricket brings to you this phenomenal story of Marizanne Kapp, the influential All Rounder of the Proteas women.
Let us begin with your background; you come from a very sporty family, very outdoorsy and active family. How was it growing up in such a background, going on morning runs with your dad, basically growing up?
I have grown up in a family which is fitness fanatic. We, my younger sister and I have played every sport at our school. In fact, when I began going to school, my dad took us for one kilometer sprint every single night, swimming in the morning, after school and night runs. We did every single thing that took care of our fitness and I think it is their way with the work ethic and I guess that is the way things started with me.
Knowing that you come from a family that has a very strong work ethic, and really disciplined as well, do you think that when you decided to start playing cricket professionally, do you think those lessons prepared you for that and your coming professional athlete life?
Well certainly. I firmly believe that if you really work hard for what you want to achieve, you will ultimately reach your goals. Especially in my profession, and where women’s cricket comes from, it is so important because I could have given up long time ago and would have pursued another career but I think what I got from my mom dad and the sheer hard work has made me what I am today.
When you started playing for South Africa, there was literally almost nothing and you were a part of the team that basically had to start from a scratch and having seen that how far has this program come and you look back on that, are you very proud of the accomplishments that this team has made?
Certainly I am very proud. I had just finished my school when my mother asked me to get a real job because when I started to play for South Africa there was not any money at all that time. I remember those words and now today I am able to take her and go wherever I want to with the sport I love. So it is obviously a dream come true for me and it is so good to see women’s cricket is getting the recognition that we deserve and so that is the big positive.
Tell us about all the sports that you played while you chose cricket in particular?
Honestly, I don’t know. I grew up with my cousins playing rugby, soccer, everything in the streets with the boys. I was bit of a tomboy. And I have loved it all, I have played all the sports possible and then cricket is the one that stuck. And the amount of skills that go into cricket because it is not just fitness but much more to me. It is the bowling and then its certain aspects, the batting, fielding. So many skills that one needs to be able to play cricket.
Also the thing about cricket is that it is a team sport, but also individualistic to a certain extent. Do you enjoy that part when it is just you and your partner batting and also the stats part that comes with it, the individual stats and the things you can accomplish?
Yes, cricket is actually a difficult part. As you said, it is an individual sport but it is also a team sport. At the end of the day, I think you can be the best you can be to take your team forward. As an individual you can be the best in the world but if you cannot back your teammates then you are absolutely nowhere, you need your team the most to go somewhere in the world.
When the decision to stick to cricket came about, do you remember if anything happened in particular that made you decide “I am not going to play anything else, this is it, and I am done with the rest”?
I think it is just the love for the sport. From day one, I absolutely loved it and even though there was not any prospective career or money in cricket, I kept playing it because I loved it so much and I knew I was not going to be able to do it for the rest of my life.
What about some of your most memorable cricketing moments?
Definitely the first Semi Finals I made to with the South African team in the T20 World Cup. That was the first even semis I have ever been a part of. So that was a big positive for me, this team actually showed that we are here to compete and we can actually get the job done.
The World Cup last year was also a great moment and boost for South Africa and women’s cricket as a whole. What was it like to be a part of that team? What was the vibe like?
Well, I absolutely loved every single moment of it and I think we have really played some good cricket. That semi final was the best part of my career and life. Coming that close to the title, it was phenomenal. I still believe had we beaten India in that semi final, we could have gone on to win that title. I mean it is sad to look back at it, but at the same time it is brilliant and extremely proud to be a part of it. We can actually tell ourselves we did something with immense hard work to have achieved that.
You are an all-rounder, so from the bowling point of view how does it feel to be a part of this game which is also highly dominated by batters?
*laughs* actually I just get so annoyed at times, because the boundaries keep getting smaller and smaller. It looks like a tough game especially after our series in England where there was absolutely nothing for the bowlers. But I think that is what makes this sport so tough that you cannot sit back and relax and play the game, you actually have to work hard on your skills and try to get better in every single game.
How does it feel to see that women’s cricket is finally getting that attention that is so ever due?
Well, makes me really happy. Like I said earlier, it is a dream come true and it is everything I wanted. And to be a part of that and to be a part of the setup that is taking women’s cricket to another level is absolutely brilliant.
With women’s cricket growing, the competition and level has also increased. The series are getting tougher. What is it like to be playing against the best teams, especially now when the women’s championship has completely opened up other countries and possibilities for South Africa to play against the strongest teams in the world?
Mentally and physically it is really tough as the amount of cricket we play nowadays is really tough for the body but we enjoy every single moment of the play and it is so good to see some of the weaker teams and someone like us few years ago, we were nowhere and now we have got some of the best players in the world. It just shows again and again that if you put in hard work, you will certainly emerge as the best and on the top.
What do you think of the current South African team that is here in the West Indies and do you think these youngsters are ready to take on the world?
Yeah, we really are a young team. All of them made their debut in the previous T20 and it is great to see them, we have such a good and positive vibe in the team. But the thing that matters the most is where you want to take your team, you may have all the talent in the world but if you don’t put in the correct amount of hard work to take your team forward, you are absolutely nothing. It is a brilliant group of girls and obviously great things to come.
How excited is this team to take on the West Indies in this T20 series and who also happen to be the women’s world T20 champions?
I think it is brilliant preparation for us playing the Windies in the West Indies so we could not ask for anything better. But now we got to pull up our socks because the next four games are so important for us as it will be a great positive for us to go into the coming world cup winning this series in the West Indies.
What else do you like outside of cricket for yourself?
I think gym (laughs), and spending time with my nieces.
You are very family oriented; you come from a very close family. Is that something you would like to grow for yourself as well?
My parents split up when I was young. It has always been my goal to keep the family together because I have seen one fighting with the other so it was so important to keep all together and be a family.
Do you play other sports or are you just saving your body for cricket?
I absolutely have no time to play other sports, but I will not complain. Because, I am doing what I love the most.