“I want to be the feeder of match-winning players into our women’s set up,” says Dinesha Devnarain

Dinesha Devnarain (born on 12 November 1988) is an international cricketer who has made 29 One Day International and 22 Twenty20 International appearances for South Africa national women’s cricket team from the period between 2008 to 2016. 

She was also a member of the South African cricket team at the 2009 ICC Women’s World Twenty20. Recently, on 6 April 2020, she was appointed as South Africa women’s U-19 head coach and as well as Women’s National Academy head coach.

Team Female Cricket caught up with Dinesha to learn more about her schedule during the lockdown, understand her take on the progress of South African women’s cricket, and the ideas she wishes to implement as Head Coach for U19 and National Academy. 

 

Female Cricket interviews Dinesha Devnarain
Female Cricket interviews Dinesha Devnarain.

Excerpts:

1. How are things in South Africa and how has the lockdown kept you busy?

It’s such a sad time for the world, and here in South Africa, we are still on lockdown with essential services still operating. Personally I am trying to keep fit, so Il workout, I’ve always loved cooking so I get to spoil the family with new dishes.

I am in contact with my players in terms of fitness programs and some coaching education sessions as well.

2. What should the cricketers do during this forced break?

I believe a lot of self-reflection should take place, as a person, and as a cricketer, I also would like for them to spend time on educating themselves about the game and read as many articles and content on cricket.

Then the mandatory aspects like fitness and ball skills should be adhered too. But spend time with loved ones too and appreciate the fact that we can share a lot of time with people we love.

3. Talking about cricket, South Africa had a phenomenal run in the World T20 as they reached their first-ever semi-final. How do you feel?

I am so proud of the girls, they played really good cricket from the onset and they really made all of us proud back home. I thought the way they went about game plans and played certain situations, showed a world-class outfit.

 

South Africa Women's Cricket team claim Historic Win
South Africa Women’s Cricket team claims Historic Win. Pic Credits: ICC

 

4. How was the atmosphere in the country when the girls reached the semi-finals of World T20?

People all over the country were so excited and proud, social media was buzzing from all platforms, I would see our girls on television sets at restaurants, people watching over their phones, it was incredible.

5. What were the reasons according to you that the side failed to make it to the finals after losing to Australia?

It’s still very difficult for me to speak about, as it still hurts but it always becomes tricky when you playing against the DL method, I think it would be wrong to pinpoint on any person or situation because, in games like that, every stolen run, or missed opportunity becomes match-winning, but if we had taken our opportunities in the field, and maybe stopped certain singles in the over, and then in the run chase, maybe we lost key wickets at certain times and towards the end, we couldn’t put bad bowling away.

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6. Did you get a chance to meet the team after they came back from Australia?

Unfortunately, I did not, I was still busy with the provincial structure, and not long after that, we had to go into lockdown but I do chat to lots of them often via social platforms.

 

South Africa Women's Team
South Africa Women’s Team. Pic Credits: ICC

 

7. You have played with some of the current players like Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail, Trisha Chetty, and Dane Van Niekerk. What would you like to say about them?

They are just fantastic competitors, world-class to be honest and I know how badly they wanted to bring it home for us, they always give their best and play with the utmost passion and pride and I know this would have hurt them a lot, and we can always go back to the grind, but I’m very proud of all of them for what they achieved in Australia, among with the other players. And they won a lot of hearts over the world.

8. In your playing career, which batter did you dread bowling to and which bowler did you fear to face?

(Hahaha) tough one but I’m gonna have to do with Deandra Dottin on both for this one. She has a serious pace and a very well-directed bouncer.

And on her day with the bat, she is ruthless, she can hit a ball a very long way and she hit bowlers into retirement, haha.

 

Deandra Dottin. Pic Credits: Getty Images
Deandra Dottin. Pic Credits: Getty Images

 

9. What does it take to be a good all-rounder?

Discipline, sacrifice, time management, and a lot of mastering your x-factor.

I suppose you need all of this with any skill set but being an all-rounder makes a lot of flexibility and being adaptive to balance both.

10. According to you, who is the best woman all-rounder in ODIs and T20s in the current setup?

Marizanne Kapp
Dane’ Van Niekerk
Elysse Perry
Hamanpreet Kaur
Sophie Devine (T20)
Deepti Sharma

I think they are world class all-rounders in both formats.

 

Dinesha Devnarain and South African Women's Cricket Team
Dinesha Devnarain and South African Women’s Cricket Team. Pic Credits: sacricketmag.com

 

11. You retired in 2015 and now we are in 2020. How do you think Cricket South Africa has changed over the years?

I did come out of retirement in 2015 and then later again retired in 2016 in Australia.

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It’s changed massively, definitely more professional, fitness has improved drastically and just the work ethic of the ladies is incredible.

12. Now that you have been appointed as the first full-time Women’s U19 and Women’s National Academy head coach, what are the things that you would like to change when you resume your new role?

I want to create finished products for the Proteas women’s team.

I want to achieve that through skill education, professionalism, no excuse, hard work, and marginal gains of improving by each day.

I want to be the feeder of match-winning players into our women’s set up.

13. Usually, there is a lot of skill and experience gap between U19 players and senior players. How will you look to bridge this gap?

This answer laps with the answer above, game time becomes important, and regional specific skill set camps of improving a player to be their best.

Plenty of one-on-one interventions will take place and a player’s lifestyle would also change in terms of training times, diet changes, and living a life of a professional athlete.

 

Dinesha Devnarain
Dinesha Devnarain ©KZN Cricket

 

14. With Women’s T20 getting much attention these days, will Cricket South Africa have its own women’s T20 league in the future?

Yes we do have the CDS women’s super league (WSL) and it comprises for 4 teams, with the best in the country competing in this league and we hope to grow that number of teams once we see rewards coming out of the program.

I do believe this is a stepping stone to greater heights for women’s cricket in South Africa.

15. What is your message to the budding women cricketers all around the world?

Stop second-guessing yourself, be brave, be consistent, and there’s no magic drill or magic coach or silver bullets, it’s just hard work, hard work never goes unnoticed.

There’s only one of you in this world, find your X factor and master that.

Be amazing
Be compassionate
Be kind

Dinesha Devnarain
Dinesha Devnarain. Pic Credits

 

16. Do you have any feedback/suggestions about our platform ‘Female Cricket’?

Firstly, let me say what a fantastic job you and the team does for women’s cricket, I think it’s admirable. Thank you for giving younger girls hope all over the world.

Maybe what would be nice now, is to have more player interaction via Instagram LIVE or Rapid fire questions to players and get fans interacted more…especially during this lockdown, I have seen some live videos up and I think it’s great, maybe also something to do with the learnings of the game. Lastly, thank you so much for sharing this journey, I really appreciate.

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