No place like home for the women’s Proteas side

It’s been almost a year since the South African women’s side were last in action but a packed schedule over the next few weeks should make up for lost time.

The best part of their three match one day international and three game T20 series against England and then the three match T20 series against the West Indies that follows is that it’s being played at home.

The women’s team begin the limited overs series against England at Willowmoore Park in Benoni tomorrow which ends a three year wait to play in home conditions.

“It hasn’t gone our way unfortunately with one of our tours cancelled last year. Those are the uncontrollable in sport that you can’t do anything about,” Mignon du Preez, captain of the side, said of the absence from international action this week.

The side was due to tour Bangladesh towards the end of last year, first in October and then a month later but it was put on ice due to security concerns.

But it hasn’t meant that he side has sat on their laurels and twiddled their thumbs. Instead they’ve been hard at work tweaking their games while Du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail and Dane van Niekerk were fortunate enough to earn spots in the women’s Big Bash League in Australia.

“It was an amazing experience. We got to experience their environments and I think they are still few years ahead of us in terms of professional women’s cricket but we’re definitely catching up. We really look forward to this series and showing them how far we’ve come,” Du Preez, who turned out for the Melbourne Stars, said.

“Personally I felt that I learnt a lot about my own game. It was nice being in different scenarios so often. Competing against some of the best cricketers in the world but also seeing that they have flaws. It was an eye-opening experience.”

“We’ll definitely share some of the knowledge we’ve gained. The nice thing was that we were part of three different teams so it’s nice to have experienced the different franchises and different coaching staff. Each of us has done things quite differently so it’s good to get together and share that knowledge with the girls.”

The most important part of the the cashes against the two visiting sides is that the T20 portion of England’s tour and the three games against the West Indies will form a crucial part of the South African side’s preparations for the ICC World T20 in India next month.

“We’re fortunate that we’ve got two tours back to back. England, who have made the final many times and have been World Cup winners and the West Indies and we all know how dangerous they are when it comes to T20 cricket,” Du PReez said of the opposition.

“It’s going to be good to test ourselves against them and it will be wonderful preparation going into the World Cup. It’s obviously a bit different playing both of them here and then going to the subcontinent but we’ve had our fair share of subcontinent tours.

“I think we can take the experience we gained in those tours and use it to our advantage,” he added of the fact that the side has travelled to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India between February 2013 and November 2014.

For now though, the big focus is on doing well against England, a team they last faced in One Day Internationals in 2011. On that occasion the tourists claimed a 3-0 series whitewash but Du Preez is confident that things will be different this time around.

“I think a lot has happened in the last four years in women cricket in South Africa and it’s really exciting. We’re looking forward to the challenge and showing them how far we’ve come.

“We just hope we can get the support of the country behind us and get those people at the games. We’ve been at lots of games where all the fans are against you and it’s nice to be on the side where people will cheer for us for a change,” said Du Preez.

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