The 2022 edition of the Women’s World Cup is scheduled to begin on 4th March 2022. Being held in New Zealand for the third time, the marquee event in the women’s calendar will consist of 31 matches culminating in the finals on April 3rd at Christchurch.
There are a total of 8 teams participating in the tournament. Australia, England, South Africa, and India obtained direct entry to the tournament along with the host New Zealand. With the Qualifier for the tournament canceled mid-way last year, the final 3 spots were determined through the ODI rankings at the end of the league, which meant that Bangladesh, Pakistan, and West Indies made the cut.
The 8 teams will be playing each other once in a round-robin format and the top four teams will advance to the knockouts.
South Africa were excellent in the 2017 edition, progressing to the knockouts only to lose against eventual champions England in the semis. They even made it to the semis of the World T20 in Australia in 2020 but could not get the job done. They have remained strong contenders but just have not had an inspiring performance in the knockouts to go over the line. Even in the Women’s Championship cycle 2017-20, they managed to finish third behind Australia and England which leaves them in good stead for this tournament. Their performance since the 2017 World Cup is summarized below:
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South Africa have announced an 18-member squad for the tournament:
Main Squad: Sune Luus (captain), Lizelle Lee, Shabnim Ismail, Chloe Tryon (vice-captain), Marizanne Kapp, Sinalo Jafta, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Tazmin Brits, Lara Goodall, Mignon du Preez, Trisha Chetty, Laura Wolvaardt, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tumi Sekhukhune
Reserve Players: Anneke Bosch, Nadine de Klerk, Raisibe Ntozakhe
A notable absence is that of South Africa’s regular captain Dane van Niekerk, who was ruled out due to an ankle fracture. Sune Luus has been announced to lead the team in her absence. She has been leading the team in the past and was most recently leading the team during the series against West Indies at home.
- High on confidence:
South Africa has always been a strong contender for any global tournament. The 2017 edition was only the second time they had featured in the knockout stage in 6 attempts. They have been strong since 2020 beating New Zealand in an ODI series in New Zealand. That same year, they progressed to the semi-finals of the Women’s World T20 in Australia for only the second time. Due to the pandemic, they could not play another series for the whole of 2020. However, since the start of 2021, they have been on the form of their lives having won 13 out of their last 17 ODIs, with a success rate of 76%. They have lost only one game during that period with 2 games tied and 1 washed out. They managed to beat Pakistan 3-0 at home, before winning away series against teams like India (4-1) and West Indies (4-0) before beating the West Indies again at home (2-0). They will be high on confidence out of those wins and will look forward to carrying them through the World Cup.
- Experienced Squad:
South Africa have a very experienced squad going into the competition. There are already 4 members in the squad who have played more than 100 ODIs – Mignon du Preez, Trisha Chetty, Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail. There are 2 other players who are on the cusp of 100 ODIs each, with the captain Sune Luus having played 92 games while Lizelle Lee has played 93 ODIs. Chloe Tryon has also played in 83 ODIs. With as many as 7 players out of their main squad of 15 having an experience of over 80 ODIs each, South Africa have a squad that is rich in experience and have faced in different match situations over the years which will be quite useful for a tournament like this. As many as 9 members of their squad featured in their last World Cup match in England.
- Good Batting & Bowling Attack:
One of the major traits of the South African team that has got them success in the recent past is that they have equally strong batting and bowling line-up. Their batting group has an explosive opener in Lizelle Lee who will be ably supported by Laura Wolvaardt. Their middle order comprises of the likes of Sune Luus, Marizanne Kapp, Mignon du Preez, and Chloe Tryon, who are also capable of going big towards the end of the innings. Lara Goodall is also an excellent player at the top. Shabnim Ismail leads the bowling attack and is fast and accurate, known to provide important wickets. She will be supported by Masabata Klaas and Ayabonga Khaka. Chloe Tryon and Sune Luus are excellent spinners who will share the responsibilities with the youngster Nonkululeko Mlaba. Marizanne Kapp is another good bowler who has been quite successful for her country.
- Absence of Dane van Niekerk:
Despite their strong and balanced attack and their recent successes, the South Africans will miss the presence of their regular skipper, Dane van Niekerk, who is out of the tournament due to an ankle injury. She has been very instrumental in the rise of South African cricket. The table below illustrates her achievements:
Dane van Niekerk has played more than 100 ODIs for South Africa, scoring more than 2000 runs scoring 9 half-centuries and a century, so she is capable of playing big innings. As a middle-order batter, she is excellent at holding one end together while the batters around her can consolidate or accelerate at the other end. She is also a useful part-time spinner, having taken 138 wickets with 6 four-wickets hauls and 2 five-wicket hauls. She is also captained on 50 occasions, the most for South Africa, having won as many as 29 of them. Sune Luus, on the other hand, has captained in only 20 ODIs, having won 11 of them. Dane van Niekerk’s experience as a player and captain would be missed.
- Adaptable to Match Situations:
Being an experienced and balanced side, South Africa will be able to play according to the match situation. Lizelle Lee can hit out of the park early in the innings but Laura Wolvaardt has shown that she can build an innings. The talented youngster, Lara Goodall, along with captain Sune Luus, Marizanne Kapp, and Mignon du Preez can consolidate towards the middle overs using their experience to guide the team as required. With Chloe Tryon to follow, they have the firepower for the death overs as well. As a bowling unit also, they have great flexibility with an array of versatile bowlers to choose from. Also, Sune Luus, Chloe Tryon, and Marizanne Kapp can also be quite a handful with the ball.
- Favourable Scheduling:
South Africa have a favourable schedule in the World Cup. They first face Bangladesh and Pakistan, two of the lower-ranked teams in the tournament before facing the strong teams. Wins against them will help them build a much-needed momentum and keep them in contention at the latter half of the tournament, where they would probably need to win only 3 of those 5 games to progress to the semis.
- The Knockout Games:
South Africa’s only threat is their poor history of the knockout games. They are consistent and are one of the teams with a very strong chance of progressing to the knockouts. However, as they have done in the past, they tend to fail in the knockouts, where they just don’t get over the line against the big teams in high-pressure situations. They had failed in progressing to the finals of both the previous 50-over World Cup in England and the World T20 in Australia. Can they be third-time lucky and break their jinx in New Zealand? Only time will tell.
South Africa will be facing Bangladesh first on March 5th in Dunedin to kick off their World Cup campaign.