In a World Cup where Mithali Raj has rewritten the all-time batting record and into which Jhulan Goswami came with the all-time bowling record, Trisha Chetty added her name to the leaderboards when in Taunton earlier this week she rose to top spot for most wicket-keeper dismissals in women’s One-Day Internationals when Chamari Polgampola edged Dane van Niekerk to her gloved hands.
Going into the semi-final, Chetty has 134 dismissals, one ahead of Rebecca Rolls, the former New Zealand player. Of those, 92 are catches and 42 are stumpings. At 97 ODIs, she may not join the growing 100-catch club in this World Cup, but she is likely to get very close to the milestone.
Speaking in the run-up to the record, Chetty pleaded ignorance of her stats. “I need to talk to the bowlers about giving me some catches!” she laughed, on finding out that was inching towards the 100 mark.
Chetty keeps to one of the strongest, most varied and quickest bowling attacks. ‘Fiery’ is a term that fits easily to the likes of Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp, the pacers, and even Dane van Niekerk, the leg-spinner. They’re tough on themselves and tough on their teammates. Fortunately for the team, Chetty has learnt to anticipate them well over the years. She reads them from the hand and knows their in-swingers, away-swingers, slower ones and bouncers better than most. They even come to her for advice, she says.
“I’ve been playing them a long time. I would love to stand up to them, but they’re too quick for that.”
Having made her international debut back in 2007 as a 19-year-old – “I was more agile that time!” – she isn’t one of those who remembers every match. “I know I’ll remember my 100 if I make my 100,” she quips. Because that is one of the numbers missing in Chetty’s stats.
She has 2393 runs from 88 innings, with 16 fifties and has been a part of four of South Africa’s top seven partnerships, but there’s no hundred. She started out batting as low as No. 8, but rose up the order to open for much of her career. Recently, with South Africa looking for blistering starts, she comes at first drop.
Her calmness is a useful trait to have after the breathtaking, high-risk game of Lizelle Lee at the top. Her first target is to get to 20. Then the next 10, the next 10…
“Getting to 50s and 60s wasn’t hard, pushing on from there was. That’s where I stumbled. People outside would think it’s a concentration thing, but it’s not. I’m more of a rotator. So when I’m at 60s and 70s, there are not enough overs for me to still rotate. So I need to push on and go to fourth gear. And I’m always stuck on third gear,” she says candidly.
Chetty’s other challenge is to soak up the responsibility of being a senior player and everything that comes with it. A self-confessed happy-go-lucky girl, who’d like nothing more than the company of her mum and to travel to the Caribbean, she’s had to find her way back into the side after a three-month suspension last year for disciplinary issues and code of conduct breaches.
“We were out for a while. Shabnim (Ismail, who was also suspended) and I thought about it and worked really hard to get back into the side. We worked twice as hard, not just on the field stuff, but off the field, to be in a professional side,” she says.
In a team of superstars, it suits Chetty just fine to keep flying under the radar. But going into the semis, she and the team know there’s a lot in her hands.