Proteas can write their names into the history books in T20 World Cup final against Australia

The Proteas celebrate after beating England in their T20 World Cup semi-final at Newlands in Cape Town yesterday. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

The Proteas celebrate after beating England in their T20 World Cup semi-final at Newlands in Cape Town yesterday. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 25, 2023


Cape Town — The Proteas’ official date with destiny has arrived.

Sune Luus, Shabim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Laura Wolvaardt, Tazmin Brits, Ayabonga Khaka, Sinalo Jafta, Nadine de Klerk, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Chloe Tryon and Anneke Bosch are all names that have been engraved into the annals of South African cricket.

But now they get an opportunity to go again. On the biggest stage of them all. A home ICC T20 World Cup final.

After stumbling through much of this tournament, only hanging on by their fingertips, the Proteas Women’s team assembled almost a perfect performance in sweeping aside a hitherto unbeaten England in the semi-finals. A feat that had never been achieved before.

A repeat performance in the final against Australia tomorrow is improbable, but the Proteas have already defied so many observers that anything now indeed seems possible.

“I can't pre-empt what's going to happen next, but it has been a long tough journey. How the girls have grown and the team has grown in stature, but every competition, opportunity that they had to play, they have shown the character that we knew they always had,” Proteas women’s coach Hilton Moreeng said ahead of tomorrow’s showpiece against the Aussies.

“No one in the changing room needs motivation for tomorrow (Sunday), they know what is at stake. And we have never had the opportunity. Now we have an opportunity to be able to show what they can do. I think yesterday (Friday) was very inspiring for all of us, and it's something that we always knew that we could do but we couldn't do on the day.

“We know we're playing against a tough opposition. But as history has it, that is just history — tomorrow it's a new day. It’s a once-off game. Whoever wants it most will have it tomorrow!”

Australia are a lot more than “tough opposition” though. They are undeniable torch bearers of the entire women’s game. They set the benchmark and others attempt to catch up.

Their highly-skilled squad boasts match winners around almost every corner, which is complemented by the mental strength of knowing they have done it all before.

In fact, tomorrow will be the Southern Stars’ seventh successive ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final, having raised the trophy five times during this period.

For the Proteas’ its virgin territory. Uncharted waters. But as we’ve seen throughout this ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, they are playing for a cause much bigger than themselves.

Every run scored, wicket snared, catch taken has added gravitas. It is all about inspiring the next generation to take up a sport that may previously have been alien to them. And even further, in terms of the social landscape, they are on a mission to uplift women in a country where they don’t always feel safe.

South African sport teams, particularly when filled with this national patriotism, have been shown to produce the almost unthinkable by raising their collective selves to heights that were virtually impossible before.

On the occasion of what is set to be the best-attended women’s sporting event South Africa has ever witnessed tomorrow, the chance — albeit slim — does exist that Sune Luus’ team could pull off one of the greatest heists.

“What has been good is to see when you look in the crowds and who are the most in the crowds, you see a lot of young girls, which has been very encouraging. They can now identify with the current team playing, the current players, so it will motivate them to be able to pick up bats and start playing cricket and they can see it as a career.

“The pressure will always be there. When you play at this level, irrespective of who, there's always pressure. I think at the end of the day, the team needs to focus on what we need to do. We understand the occasion, we understand what is coming. I think at the end of the day, like I said, the team that wants it most is the one that's going to end up on top. I think for us, it's just a focus on what we can do best.”

The Proteas have never beaten Australia in any format of the game, the most recent of the defeats coming just last week in a group match in Gqeberha. There is no better time than on Sunday at Newlands to rectify that.


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