She stepped on to the sacred 22 yards at the young age of 16, all set to conquer the world and living through the quest of excelling among the best and one day becoming one of the best.
Born on 5th January, 1996, Sune Luus, who started off as a young leg spinner and today is one of the best batting All-rounders in the world. An amazing tennis star and an avid reader, this young lady is one of the most experienced players in the South African squad. In May 2017, she was named the Women Cricketer of the Year in the annual Cricket South Africa awards. She has also equaled Anisa Mohammed’s record for taking the most number of ODI wickets in a single calendar year. In 2016, she also became only the second player to score a half century and take a fifer in a women’s ODI.
Female cricket brings to you this super exciting journey of this Protean and all that you had ever want to know about this legend in making.
Tell us about your role in the team and about your background and eventual choosing of cricket?
I am a batting all-rounder but I have not been one since always, I started off as a young leg spinner and batted around at seven or eight and a couple of years ago they gave me the opportunity to open the batting in Australia because one of our players was injured and I had a hat-trick of fifties in that tour, that is when I started seeing myself as a competitive batsman as well as our coach started seeing me as a serious batsman.
Were you very nervous back then when you were promoted up the order and how did you go with the process of making the most of that opportunity?
Actually I was not nervous at all because there was no pressure at that time so I knew that if I did well that would be great but even if I did not, it would be okay. After that I really started working hard for my batting so that I could improve upon that and thus create more opportunities for myself.
What made you pick cricket over all the other sports?
Well, it was actually difficult because I played competitive tennis as well I also had to choose between an overseas cricket tour and a Sun City tennis tour and I think that made the answer really easy for me because I don’t think tennis was going to take me overseas and I think one has to play professional cricket at the age of 13 or 14 to make it to Wimbledon so it really just pointed me to cricket.
When did you start considering cricket as a professional sport?
Well, definitely in my first year when I had to study, I did not really know what I wanted to study but one thing I was so sure about was that cricket was going to be my future. I also did not take education so seriously I always thought about cricket as my career and studies were just a side thing. I actually switched from education to sports science in my first year, so I am enjoying it quite much. But then my university told me that they could not accommodate me with my practicals and I took a gap year this year and now I am starting my communication science with Unisa (University Of South Africa).
How did your parents react when you took the decision of playing cricket professionally instead of tennis?
They were really supportive; my mom always loved tennis because she came with me on tours. At the same time tennis was always a more stressful thing for her and for my dad because they thought it is like cricket, if you are batting and you get out, you are out of the game but in tennis, if you make a mistake, you go on and they always thought that if you make one mistake you are out of the game. So when I chose cricket they were like finally it is less stressful for us! So yeah, they were really supportive and they really enjoyed my cricket and watched every single game and were great about it.
You got your call up to the national team while you were still in the U19 team and we had the national girl’s U19 tournament and straight from there you were selected in the national team. How did that feel?
Being selected at a young age was always going to be a tough one and it was really great and also a great opportunity for me and just to get a sniff about the really world and how professional cricket really is was really great for me at a young age. So you can really work hard and think about everything and know where you want to reach with time and work towards it.
Tell us about your remarkable performances that really stand out in your career so far?
There are a few, but like I said the hat-trick of fifties that I got back in Australia has been a memorable moment for me and for my batting as well. And going back to the T20 World Cup a few years back, when I got 5 wickets for 8 runs against Ireland and that was definitely one of my most memorable moments of all time especially because it was in a World Cup.
In that world cup we had to beat New Zealand and the night before they already packed their bags to go to the other city where the semi finals were being held and I think that really gave us a boost of confidence just telling ourselves that’s not going to happen, you are going to pack your bags and come back here again so definitely it was a great tournament for us. Obviously, we did lose in the semi finals but I think to get there for the very first time was in itself a great opportunity.
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Your first world cup was in 2012 in Sri Lanka. Tell us about your World Cup experiences so far?
We had a series in Bangladesh and then we straight went to Sri Lanka so we were on a tour for around 6-7 weeks and my mom was going crazy because her little daughter was going away for 7 weeks but it was a great experience and the vibe was amazing to be in Sri Lanka, such a beautiful country and we stayed near the beach and it was just so amazing. I was sixteen back then and most people say they miss their home and their parents.
Well obviously I missed my parents but I had a great roommate Mignon du Preez my best friend back then and still. In fact, I did my school homework in the flights. One of our players Sunette Loubser was an accounting teacher and she helped me with all my homework. And talking about cricket in particular it was an amazing experience.
Talking about the more recent 2017 World Cup, it was a watershed moment for South African team. Tell us about that experience?
Yes definitely that was full of emotions and us as a team fought really hard in the whole tournament. Obviously it was heartbreaking to lose in that semi final because we knew what we wanted to achieve and that was to bring the world cup home. But nevertheless it was a great experience and I think I also got a fifer against Australia in that tournament, although I did not feel as confident in my bowling, I still got the result I wanted and that really was a positive thing for me.
That world cup was very much dominated by the batters, smashing sixes and breaking records. How did it feel from a bowler’s point of view?
I think where cricket is heading, it is going to get a more batter dominated game, but I think you always have a chance as a spinner and I think I gave my best in that tournament and also our spinners did exceptionally well in that tour. Also I think Dan Van Niekerk is one of the best leg spinners in the world, she did a great job as well. But I believe that we have the best bowling attack in the world and even if it is batter friendly, we can still handle it.
Women’s cricket is finally getting the attention it has always deserved and the world is finally waking up and appreciating their achievements. So what is your take on that, how do you feel about it?
Well, I think this should have happened a long time ago but then everything is a process, and we as women cricketers thoroughly appreciate the attention and we deserve it as well. We all have worked extremely hard and in Australia and England, it started a bit earlier for them but they also deserve that because they have worked really hard. As for us, it came after a really long time and today we are in a really great and strong position as a cricket community and it is only going to grow from here.
South Africa in particular has experienced a whole women’s cricket revolution after all the struggles. But now you are in a very great position where cricket is in the forefront when it comes to female athletes. Also with this revolution, come the professionalism and the facilities provided by the national board. Tell us something about the contracts and how the treatment to the players and the facilities has improvised?
Cricket South Africa has done a lot for us and we are really blessed to be where we are today and we have also worked extremely hard for that and we are extremely grateful for all the facilities and support that we have got. Also the contracts have made us more professional as we do not have to do two jobs together and have let us focus on cricket and do it full time and not juggle between studies and cricket anymore and to do our best in cricket and do everything that we can for South Africa.
What do you think about the current South Africa squad? Do you think the youngsters are ready to take on the world?
Certainly we have got a few gutsy youngsters and they work extremely well, they message us before our gym sessions and practices so that they can join us a work better with us. They want to improve every day and I think they truly deserve to be here and the experience that they get after every tour, they will take back with them to their provinces and home and that they will always give back to their country and help cricket grow as well.
How hilarious is that we have got four new players and yet Laura Wolvaardt is still the youngest player in the team?
Yeah, Laura I think she does that (Laughs) and I think she is never going to be older than anyone in this team, I think when everyone is going to be 30, she will still be 29 and still be the youngest (Laughs).
It is great to have a balanced mix of young and experienced players to bring the best from the team. What do you have to say about that?
We have 6-7 senior players at the moment that can really take the young ones and help them to grow in their game and to feed them the information that they can take in their game and work on it. Being 22 and being best friends with all the youngsters I cannot really call myself a senior but certainly in cricket I would because of the experience but in personal life, I would still consider myself as a youngster. And I am not going to be a senior in life till I am dead.
How excited is the team to take on the West Indies who are also the current T20 champions?
They are a great T20 side, but as even we reflected we have a great bowling unit and having four youngsters, it is always going to be a better gamble and a better chance and we can always grow and going into the next game, we know what is expected of us and that how we have to perform.
What do you like to do besides cricket and studying?
Okay so I am a reader and love reading Nicholas Sparks along the pool side, the whole romantic novels and I am really a sociable person so I am always in someone’s room if not reading, having a few chats.
Do you still play tennis?
Yes actually before we came here, on our previous camp, I took on Laura Wolvaardt and I beat her obviously (Laughs). I just play once a year, so getting rusty with the time, but then that is something I really enjoy.