Many captains would fear facing England in their ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 opener but Dane van Niekerk certainly isn’t one of them.
Instead the South Africa skipper is relishing the task – nearly three years on from when the Proteas were denied a place in the Women’s Cricket World Cup final by Heather Knight’s side.
The two meet again at the WACA on Sunday, with van Niekerk thrilled to have the chance to call upon all her key names for the first time since they went to England.
“I think the last time we had a full-strength side was in 2017 and we did really well there,” she said. “So hopefully that counts in our favour and we still have to play really good cricket and stay true to the brand of cricket we want to play.
"You have to hit the ground running in your first game and what better way to face England in the first game. We know how crucial the game is and if we can get one up on them it will make our road to the semis much easier.
“It’s nice to be back up there in the order with Lizelle Lee. She’s been phenomenal for us up the order hopefully she can come good, she hit a century at the WACA not long ago and I asked her if she could channel that again.”
Saturday’s double-header of matches were the first WT20Is to be played at the WACA, but Knight’s England are far from going into the unknown. Coach Lisa Keightley was formerly in charge of the Perth Scorchers in the Women’s Big Bash League while star all-rounder Nat Sciver took her place in the squad.
As 50-over world champions, they also enter the Women’s T20 World Cup with confidence but, with India beating Australia in the opening match, Knight knows they can’t take anything for granted.
“Lisa has brought a lot in terms of how to be successful at the WACA,” she said. “They don’t actually play a lot of games under the lights there because of the time difference. “So that’s something that will be something different that we will need to adapt to and making sure that we communicate that very clearly as a side when we’re out on the pitch and adapting to the conditions in front of us.
“In the context of the tournament any team can win it, T20 can be quite a fickle game. We aren’t too worried about what’s going on in the other group – our main job is starting well and trying to get out of these group stages.
“I think there’s match winners in every team at T20 you only need on or two match winners to win a game.”
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