An explosive opener, a game-changer, a situation player, a keeper, a part-time bowler with a few wickets to her name, Lizelle Lee had it all. Lizelle Lee, yesterday stunned the cricketing world with a social media post that read the 30 y/o announced her retirement from all formats of the game. South Africa last week played their 1st Test after 9 long years v England that did feature Lizelle Lee in the XI, fast forward today, a couple of days away from the start of the white-ball series against England and South Africa find themselves without a player of Lizelle Lee stature that’s as big as many.
Lizelle Lee in her retirement social media post wrote, “It is with a lot of mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from international cricket. From a very young age, I have lived cricket and wanted to represent my country at the highest level. Over the past 8 years I was able to live that dream and I feel I have given everything I could to the Proteas. I feel that I am ready for the next phase in my career and will continue to play domestic T20 cricket around the world. It has been an incredible journey and it would not have been possible without everyone who has supported me during my international career. I want to thank my family, especially my wife Tanja for all the sacrifices they have made for me to live out my dream to represent my country. Thank you to CSA, SACA and all stakeholders involved for the opportunities and support you afforded me to make my dreams of playing for the Proteas come true.”
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) July 8, 2022
Lizelle Lee in September 2013 for the first time was seen at the international stage against Bangladesh. In her career of 184 matches, she played a couple of Test matches, and 82 T20I games that she dominated with a healthy strike rate of 110, a 60-ball 100 v Thailand is Lee’s best T20I knock. Having finished her career with 1896 runs under her belt she is South Africa’s highest run-scorer in the 20 over format. The ODI, 50 over format witnessed the best of Lee, she also has a special 100 in her ODI career and that’s of the 100-ODI games. Lee scored 3315 runs in this format and celebrated 3 centuries and 23 half-centuries. Lee averaged the best vs Bangladesh and England with over a 50 and her best one-day knock of 132* had come against India, the other two tons had come against Australia and England. 2021 was the best year for Lizelle Lee that saw her get into the list of ICC Women’s ODI Cricket of the year, that year Lee piled a mountain of 632 runs at an average of 90.28.
Lizelle Lee on most occasions opened the innings for South Africa and was always crucial for South Africa, her pair alongside Laura Wolvaardt just proved gold for South Africa and it isn’t likely that a pair of that class and caliber is around the corner for South Africa. The retirement of Lizelle Lee has come as a huge blow and maybe not sometimes South Africa were prepared for. An opener’s role is always crucial be it any format of the game and for years Lizelle Lee with complete ease kept doing well and provided her side with great starts and even finishes at times. There’ll be no one who can be a like-to-like replacement, but with so much international cricket on schedule, South Africa has got to groom and stop the experimentation soon.
One probably a replacement for South Africa is Andrie Steyn, she had a burst back to the international scene against West Indies early this year at home, and batting at 3 got a half-century to her name to create a good first impression. In South Africa’s recent ODI series against Ireland, she was given the opportunity to open the innings and registered scores of 21*, 84* and 18 in the 3-match ODI series. The Test match against England at the start of their ongoing tour saw Steyn open in both innings of the Test, but having failed to perform she’s yet to completely seal the spot to her name.
Eyes will be on Andrie Steyn and how she goes about her business against England in a couple of days’ time and if she does manage a few good scores in the remainder of the series we might have snippets of what is to come for South Africa with the pair of Andrie Steyn and Laura Wolvaardt with world cricket continuing to miss the world-class player in Lizelle Lee.