Interview: “I want to be a match-winner for South Africa” – Nadine De Klerk

Cricket runs in her blood, thanks to her family being involved in cricket big time. Following the footsteps of her cousin, who played for Netherlands, she took up cricket from a very young age and went on to make her international debut for South Africa at just 17 years of age. She has already been a part of two World Cup semi-finals and is raring to have a go at the upcoming ICC event.

 

Female Cricket interviews Nadine De Klerk
Female Cricket interviews Nadine De Klerk

 

In an exclusive chat with Female Cricket, South Africa’s all-rounder Nadine de Klerk talks about her early days, the 2020 World T20 semi-final and more.

Excerpts

Tell us about your early days and your family.

I have been privileged to have such a wonderful family. Some of my family members have played cricket for Somerset. My cousin has represented the Netherlands. Growing up, it was always cricket that I played with my brother and cousins in the backyard. My father, who has always been a great cricket lover, used to throw balls at me. He has played an important role in my cricketing journey. To date, we discuss cricket and he tells me what I could have done better. When I am on overseas tours, he sets his alarm clock so that he could watch me play live and after the match we discuss my performance. I am grateful to have him.

 

Nadine De Klerk in Women's T20 World Cup 2020 PC: Getty Images
Nadine De Klerk in Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 PC: Getty Images

 

What made you choose cricket over other sports?

I have always been a massive sports lover. I played hockey and tried my hand at javelin throw. I started playing cricket in my backyard and gradually I played my domestic cricket for the Northerns. I started performing well by the time I was 15. A couple of years later, when I turned 17, I got my first international call. That is when I decided to take up cricket full time and bid adieu to hockey and javelin throw. I am glad I chose cricket. It gives me the reason to wake up every morning and have a go with the bat or the ball.

You made your international debut at the age of 17 and in the same year, you were a part of the World Cup squad. Tell us more about that.

I made my debut against India in 2017. I played just four matches, two against India and two against Ireland, before the World Cup. I did not expect to be selected for the World Cup. But when I came to know about my selection I was very delighted. Though I didn’t get a chance to play in the 2017 World Cup in England, apart from a warm-up game against Australia, I learnt a lot by just being in the dressing room and training alongside the team. It was heart-breaking to lose the semi-final to England. That World Cup was an eye-opener for me. I understood the things that I needed to work on to become a better player. When I came back home, I started working on my fitness more. Since then to date, I have become a better player.

Also Read:  From Winning Medals in Athletics to Winning Hearts in Cricket - Story of Kiran Navgire

 

Anya Shrubsole comforting Dane van Niekerk after England beat South Africa World Cup semi-final was one of the moments of the tournament
Anya Shrubsole comforting Dane van Niekerk after England beat South Africa World Cup semi-final was one of the moments of the tournament. Pic Credits: Sky Sports

 

South Africa reached the semi-finals of World T20 in 2020. Tell us more about that match.

It still feels like yesterday that we played the semi-finals against Australia. Even if I see the highlights today I feel like crying. It was unfortunate to have a rain-curtailed match but irrespective of the situation in hand, we as a team were ready to fight. We had a good team in that World Cup where everybody was willing to work hard and make sacrifices. Though we lost the semi-final, I had a good game with the ball. I picked up 3-19 in four overs.

In the morning on the day of the match, I was told that I will be in the playing XI. I knew that I may not get a chance to bowl since I was there as a replacement. I will be there only as a specialist fielder. To my surprise, during the start of the match, our captain told me that I will be going in the middle overs. As the game progressed, I was brought in to bowl in just the seventh over. The moment I was handed the ball, my aim was to pitch in the right areas and not bowl any no-balls. Everything went my way that day with the ball. That three-wicket haul has been the highlight of my career so far.

South Africa Women's Cricket team
South Africa Women’s Cricket team. Pic Credits: ICC

 

When you are on a break, how do you spend your time?

I love fishing, listening to music and watching movies. I spend a lot of time with my family, including my younger sister when I am home. My younger sister keeps me young (smiles).

You have played ODIs and T20Is for South Africa. Which format do you enjoy more?

I enjoy playing the T20Is more. I love the pace of the game. Also, you get to see some inventive shots with the ball and some surprise balls in the T20 format.

You have played for the Brisbane Heat in WBBL | 06 and WBBL | 07. How was the experience?

It has been an amazing experience to play for the Brisbane Heat in the WBBL. There are many international players and you learn a lot from them. We used to have a lot of fun off the field which helped us to release the pressure on the field. I had a good time with Poonam Yadav and we enjoyed a bit of banter. I played under the leadership of Jess Jonassen. Jess is a brilliant leader and an equally wonderful cricketer. She leads from the front and makes you feel comfortable. The coaching staff at Brisbane Heat is also great. They put extra effort to make you a better cricketer.

 

Nadine De Klerk for Brisbane Heat in Women's Big Bash League. PC: Brisbane Heat / YouTube
Nadine De Klerk for Brisbane Heat in Women’s Big Bash League. PC: Brisbane Heat / YouTube

 

In case we have a full-fledged women’s IPL in the future, on similar lines as the men’s IPL, which team would you like to be a part of?

I would like to play for the KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders). I have been a massive fan of Jacques Kallis and since he played a lot for the KKR, I would love to be a part of the same outfit. If we have a women’s IPL in the near future it would be great for women’s cricket in general as well as for Indian women’s cricket.

With the ICC Women’s World Cup just around the corner, how are you preparing yourself for it?

Also Read:  South Africa claim the No. 2 spot in ICC Women's ODI Team Rankings

Being an all-rounder you know that your hands are always going to be full. You have to contribute with both bat and ball. I have been working on my bowling, especially the way I want to bowl in the middle overs, the kind of field that I would set, and so on. I have also been working on my batting. We have a good bunch of young and senior players on the side and we are raring to have a go at the World Cup.

 

Nadine De Klerk in action. PC: csaofficial / Twitter
Nadine De Klerk in action. PC: csaofficial / Twitter

 

South Africa’s captain Dane van Niekerk has been ruled out of the World Cup due to an ankle injury. What was your first reaction when you came to know about this?

I had goosebumps and I was completely heartbroken when I came to know that Dane will not be a part of the World Cup. I wish her a speedy recovery and hopefully she comes back stronger. Dane is one of the best captains in the world, according to me. She leads the team from the front. Apart from being a brilliant captain, she is an exceptional all-rounder. We will miss her in the World Cup. It is a massive loss for us. However, our team is coping well with this fact and we are in a good space now. The core of our team has been there together for the last four years and we have a good mix of young and senior players. We want to give our best in the upcoming World Cup.

 

Nadine De Klerk in Women's Cricket World Cup 2022. PC:  Twitter
Nadine De Klerk in Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022. PC: Twitter

 

What is the one goal that you want to achieve in your cricket career?

I want to be a match-winner for South Africa. With my contributions with both bat and ball I want to win as many matches as possible for the team. A quick 50 or a hat-trick is something that I would want to achieve in my career.

Watch the Full Interview here

I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.

Liked the story? Leave a comment here