Why was Dane van Niekerk not included in T20 World Cup Squad?

South Africa is notorious for their stringent fitness-based selection calls, as seen with Lizelle Lee in the past and, in the exclusion of their skipper, has done nothing different. In a shocking move, the selection committee has decided to omit Dane van Niekerk from the T20 World Cup squad.


Dane Van Niekerk. PC: Getty Images
Dane Van Niekerk. PC: Getty Images


Having not played for South Africa in international cricket since 2021, an unfortunate injury ruled her out for the better part of last year. The reason being cited for her exclusion is that she is not able to meet the fitness standards for Cricket South Africa (CSA). Sune Luus has been leading the Proteas team in her absence, and even in the Tri-series that could have been an ideal stepping stone for van Niekerk, the CSA ruled her out. Talking more about it was Clinton du Preez, CSA’s women’s selection convener, who said, “Dané was given an extensive opportunity to meet the minimum criteria or the fitness benchmark for eligibility into the World Cup. She recently did another fitness test and unfortunately did not meet the minimum criteria, and therefore she’s missed out. It’s purely based on the not meeting of the fitness criteria that she’s missed out.”

It has also been reported that CSA has a fitness requirement for female cricketers where they should be able to run two kilometres in 9 minutes and 30 seconds, but van Nierkerk clocked in 18 seconds more than the target, and although it was her personal best, she did not make the cut thereby leading to her exclusion. The ankle injury that sidelined her made her return difficult, but with the Head Coach confident of her return for the World Cup, it is surprising that she did not make the cut as she has put in the hard yards, engaging in extensive rehabilitation while also losing ten kilos while also doing well in all markers of the fitness test except the two km trial. Dale Steyn’s not-so-cryptic tweet added to the discourse and raised questions on whether fitness should have more precedence over the player and their impact performances.

It has also been reported by ESPN Cricinfo that another option was used of testing her on the treadmill, and her inability to meet the mark led to her exclusion. The CSA has been using a rigorous fitness standard for the past two years and believes “the selection process needed to be applied equitably”. South Africa will dearly miss her services, and this is a home World Cup which is of prime significance. Losing out on a player of van Nierkerk’s calibre can hurt their prospects, and with Lizelle Lee, and Mignon du Preez also not playing, the CSA seems confident and added that “We’ve created succession in the leadership within the team. The morale of the team is fine. We were out yesterday as a team, and they were chatting together nicely. I believe the team have pulled together and that they accept the decision we have made, and that is required for the good of our players.”

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South Africa is in Group A and will square off against Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Australia and Bangladesh in the upcoming ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.

Squad: Sune Luus (capt), Chloe Tryon (vice-capt), Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits, Nadine de Klerk, Lara Goodall, Shabnim Ismail, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Laura Wolvaardt, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Delmi Tucker, Annerie Dercksen.

Non-traveling reserves: Micaéla Andrews, Tebogo Macheke, Tumi Sekhukhune

I am a first year postgraduate student pursuing a MA in Media and Communication Studies at Christ University, Bengaluru. I am a podcaster, blogger and an avid cricket fan. When not glued to cricket matches, you can find me submerged in books and thinking about cricket all the time.

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